Many moons ago my business communications professor made the interesting observation that when you send a message (letter or email which was in its infancy) not only does that message need to be received but it also has to be interpreted by the receiver in the way it was intended by the sender.
The professor was speaking of a business environment where the accuracy of messages sent and received was of paramount importance and the misinterpretation of a message could mean disaster.
At the time FB did not exist nor did TW or any of the other social media venues where messaging is nearly constant. I often wonder what my professor would have had to say about the social media phenomena and what guidance he would give a user of social media. I’m sure he would have complied a list of social etiquette guidelines for us to memorize understanding that corporations often do monitor what their employees post on social media.
Why you may ask?
Because an employee represents the company he or she works for and as a representative of that company a post can say much about the kind of employee the poster is.
It is the same for the Christian. Whether we like it or not we are judged by our words (communications) and as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20a) there is a need to take that seriously.
Consider Colossians 4:6:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ( ESV)
The context has to do with being a positive witness to the outside world; that is, those that do not know Christ as Savior and Lord.
Paul says (and it comes across as a command) that our speech needs to be gracious meaning among other things that when we speak we ought to think of ourselves as influences (salt) and speak or post with wisdom.
Colossians 4:6 is an application of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:13-16, especially verse 13.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 15:13-16, ESV)
Salt is used as a preservative and for seasoning. Jesus’ meaning was that a Christian should seek to be a positive influence in the world for good. Taken with Colossians 4:6 it means that we should wisely use social media for good and at the very least do the gospel no harm with what we post or even “like.”
The Bible has much to say about communications and in my next post I’ll discuss why we often do not use social media for good.