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 How Should Christians Comment Online? by Jon Bloom

I felt this was edifying and an important reminder to myself and all believers who interact on social media websites.

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Reading people’s comments online is an interesting and sometimes troubling study in human nature. And reading comments by professing Christians on Christian sites (as well as other sites) can be a discouraging study in applied theology.

The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless. That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God.

How Should We Comment?

Seldom: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).

The Bible counsels us to restrain our lips (which in the twenty-first century includes thumbs) because a fool has many words (Ecclesiastes 5:3). We are wise to heed this counsel. It’s also helpful to remember that our sin nature gives us all an exaggerated sense of self-importance. But gospel humility leads us to esteem others higher than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Perhaps our opinions aren’t needed after all.

Slowly: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

If an article or post makes us angry, we should almost never write in the heat of irritation. In that frame of mind it is very difficult to “be gentle [and] show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2). It is best to wait and pray. An hour or a day will likely yield a more gracious comment, if one is needed at all.

Graciously: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

All things that are said outside of the Bible by fallen humans, especially quickly written social media updates, are limited, deficient, and defective. And all of us read things through the filters of our experience and perspective. We all say and interpret things wrongly. Therefore, we can be gracious and patient, seeking to assume the best of people.

When Should We Comment?

For the Christian, the purpose for speaking anything to anyone at anytime, whether with lips or hands, is “that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). So if we discern that we should comment on someone’s post, our motive should be to give them grace. When we do decide it would be good to comment, here are a few suggestions of ways to give grace:

Thank: Giving thanks may be the best and most frequent reason we should comment. If a writer increases our understanding or encourages our souls or helpfully exhorts or warns us, expressing our gratitude is appropriate for us and life-giving to the writer. The piece doesn’t have to be perfect. If we’re helped, we can thank; if we’re not helped, we can say nothing.

Encourage: We humans generally find it easier to criticize each other than to encourage each other. Often this response is sinful pride infecting our critical thinking skills. There are easily a hundred critics for every encouraging person. As gospel people who seek to give grace, Christians can use comments to encourage and build up a writer and other readers (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Look for and identify the grace in an article or post.

Clarify: If a post is confusing or sounds errant to us, giving grace is to first ask clarifying questions, rather than immediately jumping to conclusions. A kind, insightful question might reveal a writer’s mistake or a reader’s misunderstanding.

Correct (Gently): Giving correction should be quite rare. In general, I think too much time is wasted on crafting critiques in comments and then defending those critiques from opponent commenters. But occasionally a glaring factual or doctrinal error may be important enough to warrant a correction. In such cases we must remember Paul’s instruction:

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:24–25)
Authentic humility in heart and tone is essential. Wait and pray until you can comment in a way that matches Paul’s exhortation. And do not be sucked into time-consuming “irreverent babble” with other commenters (2 Timothy 2:16). Leave the comment in faith and don’t take offense if it doesn’t receive a response. If you know the author personally, avoid correcting them with a public comment. Write or call them privately.

Do Not Start Fires

In closing, let us remember this sober word from the apostle James:

The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)
James wrote this warning to Christians. Christians set fires in comment threads. Let us not set fires through careless words for which we will be held accountable. Rather, let us restrain our lips/fingers, and when we do speak, may it only be to give grace to those who hear.


from: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-should-christians-comment-online


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2015/7/15 23:40Profile
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 Re: How Should Christians Comment Online? by Jon Bloom

Amen and Amen Brother Greg. Yes from here.


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David Winter

 2015/7/16 6:06Profile
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 Re: How Should Christians Comment Online? by Jon Bloom

Amen!
I second that motion!
May we all be as wise a serpents and as harmless as doves~


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Fletcher

 2015/7/16 10:13Profile
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 Re: How Should Christians Comment Online? by Jon Bloom

Agreed.

A challenging issue for me is when people love to gloat about their sin when they know better...and you know they are hell-bound. I do wonder how one is to obey the WORD when it tells us one snatch them out of the fire..Jude 23. Snatching one out of the fire requires some desperate action. Right now I am in a serious quandry with an acquaintence who is shacking - who knows it is sin - and gloating how beautiful she feels (self-esteem). She is setting herself up to be suicidal, drug abuse and perversion.

We are called to be light, but how does one shine this Light upon people who brag about their contentment in sinful living? People who know better?

You want to be graceful and not mean...

Sandra


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Sandra Miller

 2015/7/19 18:40Profile
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 Re:

I often visit sports and politics related comments on news websites. Some of the comments are so insensitive. If we try arguing with them, we will be fools. People who will have no respect for others at all. Though I sometime try to read such comments, I have learnt not to comment back.

There was a movie in India that questioned many religious practices including Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. I created a blog in my office website on the questions asked in the movie about Christianity and gave a biblical answer to it. But some people were so against my answers. They could not tolerate that Christianity has answers to questions posted in the movie. They were fine with their religion of practice having no answer, but when someone else has answers it bothered them so much. I tried answering to all their comments. But at some point I was only arguing to prove myself right rather than spreading the basic truths on Christianity which was my original intention.

I then realized how easily I was disturbed from my original intention. I lost my peace over the arguments. I finally withdrew from answering the comments.


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Sreeram

 2015/7/20 6:13Profile
Jeremy221
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 Re: How Should Christians Comment Online? by Jon Bloom

Quote:
The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless.



This is silly. It is exactly the same as speaking. People who do not control their tongues do not control their writing either.

Jon Bloom fails to bring God into this at all. Everything is a personal control technique. This is a vast oversight. It boils down to a work of flesh.

I am not saying these things are wrong but any work devoid of faith is worthless. Atheists and non-believers have civil discussions and can practice these as techniques. We are to speak full of grace. It's not our own grace. Our own grace is an empty counterfeit to the real grace of God. The salt is living the Word of God which isn't merely a list of principles.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. Jesus commanded us to abide in Him. If you abide, you will bear good fruit. Period.

 2015/7/20 7:08Profile
makrothumia
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Our Lord who was, and always will be, full of grace and truth, made a profound statement that many overlook when speaking of "abiding" in Christ.

Our Lord did not say, "If you abide, then you will obey"!

He placed the condition of our abiding upon our obedience.

"If you obey my commands you will abide in my love."

Therefore, to make the assertion that exhorting or instructing others to "obey" or "follow" an instruction is to cause them to seek to do a "work in the flesh" is to accuse our Lord Himself of not understanding the danger being cautioned against.

The New Testament is full of Present Active Imperatives. Therefore, to make a claim that giving an imperative to a believer to follow a certain course of action or avoid another course of action is a promotion of a "work of the flesh" is to accuse all the New Testament writers of making this error. I want to encourage all believers not to be intimidated by this false logic.

I rejoice with our Lord Jesus who said, "And I know that His command is eternal life."

Those who encourage believers to keep God's commands do them a great service, pointing them to eternal life. Those who discourage others from keeping a command of our Lord Jesus deserve to be called least in the kingdom of God.

Paul, the apostle of grace, made this clear - "circumcision is nothing, and un-circumcision is nothing, but keeping God's commands." The saints in heaven are described as those who "keep the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus."

Whoever considers himself religious, but does not keep a tight rein upon his tongue, deceives himself and his religion is nothing."

Self-restraint is a form of "self-control" a fruit of the Spirit not imposed upon a believer, but available to all who obey the truth and become blessed by doing so.

To be clear, the error to avoid is the promotion of the idea that abiding is not by means of obedience. Obedience is the means of abiding, not merely the fruit of it.

makrothumia


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Alan and Dina Martin

 2015/7/20 8:46Profile
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 Re: Jon Bloom leaves out God?

Hi Jeremy,

You wrote,

"Jon Bloom fails to bring God into this at all. Everything is a personal control technique. This is a vast oversight. It boils down to a work of flesh."

I read where he wrote,

"That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God."

How is that leaving God out bro?

You also wrote,

"I am not saying these things are wrong but any work devoid of faith is worthless. Atheists and non-believers have civil discussions and can practice these as techniques. We are to speak full of grace. It's not our own grace. Our own grace is an empty counterfeit to the real grace of God. The salt is living the Word of God which isn't merely a list of principles."

Where did Mr. Bloom speak of us to employ and use our own grace when we write and respond online? He wrote,

"For the Christian, the purpose for speaking anything to anyone at anytime, whether with lips or hands, is “that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). So if we discern that we should comment on someone’s post, our motive should be to give them grace. When we do decide it would be good to comment, here are a few suggestions of ways to give grace:"

Plus he used 12 different scriptural references in his comments. I hardly see how he left God and God's grace out completely and was urging Christians to engage in a work of the flesh by commenting online in a more consistent Christian manner. His comments seemed very God centered from this corner.

Thank you.




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David Winter

 2015/7/20 9:51Profile
Jeremy221
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 Re:

Thanks docs,

Does Jon Bloom believe God works in the life of the believer? Yes, he does. However, if you look at the following statement from the blog post you will be able to see some of the bounds he places on it,

Quote:
All things that are said outside of the Bible by fallen humans, especially quickly written social media updates, are limited, deficient, and defective. And all of us read things through the filters of our experience and perspective. We all say and interpret things wrongly. Therefore, we can be gracious and patient, seeking to assume the best of people.



He basically says that there is zero anointed communication today. He does believe God can lead an individual to do something but he categorically states He does not speak through them. In this paragraph he denies both the gifts of prophecy and the gift of discernment.

Based on another recent blog post, it appears he's had a fundamental shift in his understanding of the Christian life. I hope to see its outworkings in a few years' time.

 2015/7/21 6:07Profile
docs
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Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2069


 Re: Thanks docs

Jeremey, you wrote of Bloom,

"He basically says that there is zero anointed communication today. He does believe God can lead an individual to do something but he categorically states He does not speak through them. In this paragraph he denies both the gifts of prophecy and the gift of discernment."

Bloom's pareagraph that you wrote of was,

"All things that are said outside of the Bible by fallen humans, especially quickly written social media updates, are limited, deficient, and defective. And all of us read things through the filters of our experience and perspective. We all say and interpret things wrongly. Therefore, we can be gracious and patient, seeking to assume the best of people."

He didn't say anything abvout there not being anointed communication today. He was writing of persons outsisde of the Christian faith and how they communicate and how Christians can be gracious and patient to these people when responding to them. That takes a bit of discernment in itself and the gift of prophecy seems to me well beyond the subject of Bloom's thoughts about how Christians should communicate online. Where in this paragraph does he deny both the gifts of prophecy and discernment? I'm thankful he addressed the subject of Christian communicatiuon online and I think he addressed the subject in a thoughtful amd scriptural manner. He came far from urging people to engage in a work of the flesh as you categorized his statements.

John Piper who is no novice in the theological field has given Jon Bloom's book "Desiring God" a good review and that speaks for something. I realize the subject here is how should Christians comment online and I don't want to cross any lines in that regard or start any unnecessary fires but you seem to have veered outside the scope of Bloom's comments in your perception of them. He hasn't urged anyone to a work of the flesh or said there is no anointed communication or denied the gift of prophecy and discernment. I'll say no more because I may have said too much already.

Respectfully and blessings to you.

Respectfull


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David Winter

 2015/7/21 7:46Profile





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