What Would Jesus Do on Internet?

Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

September 21, 2011

The other day, I read something that hurt me and made me want to scream with all my might, even though it was not about me and someone else was being slandered online. In all Christian humility, I thought it was fair for me to confirm the news with the person who was being spoken about and I quickly took to tweeting. While at it, I realized that by doing that, not only was I practicing no self-control, I would also be feeding negative news to all my dear Twitter followers.

This is an important topic that we need to deal with on GTH.

I think you would agree with me that our new found freedom through the now easily accessible social networks have, without a doubt, been a blessing. It has helped in throwing down unfair governments and much more.

However, I also think that it has the capacity to make our generation less patient, more pampered and excessively aggressive. We must be cautious to not abuse this new found freedom. It is as if it allows us to become a different person when we step into the virtual world. We will blog about things that we would never say to someone’s face. We’ll tweet or post things that we’d never really say offline.  

Some of the excuses are that there are verses in the Bible that makes anger legitimate and some of them call these reactions holy anger. But Bible also says, “Be angry, and do not sin…” Ephesians 4: 26. In James 1: 19, 20 we are also advised to be, “slow to anger…” Anger can quickly become poisonous if we do not practice being patient, loving and kind to one another.

So, the next time you are tempted to be unkind, remember these things:
1. Don’t be hypersensitive.

Don’t be that person who is always right and everybody else is wrong. Some of us get upset over everything and anything. How much or how many have you appreciated before you criticize any? Jesus said forgive, for you shall be forgiven. Mercy is given to those who show mercy. Remember, Jesus said, he who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone? (John 8:7)

2. Don’t respond in anger.

After you have finished writing what you want, put it to hold. Don’t post, tweet, email, or click send yet. Follow James 1:27, “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”. In our generation’s context, it would be, “Swift to hear, but slow to post, digg, share, tweet or send.”

[Please note: Avoid being Mr./Ms. ‘Anonymous’ at all cost. Can we not stand up and boldly say what we have to? Yes, we should be able to. Using another name would be giving yourself the permission to vent your anger, leaving no place for self-control.]

3. Accept.

Accept that you were offended and remind yourself that you have the power to choose how you respond. These may be lessons that God is teaching you through them, to overcome similar situations in the future. A dear Pastor friend once said, “If you see somebody’s fault and pray for them instead of pointing your finger at them, God will protect you in that area.”

Let go and move on. Why allow bitterness to rule your spirit? That anger and resentfulness that you carry will weaken your walk with God. Let go until your emotions align with the decision you have made.

4. Ask yourself.

What am I going to feed the ones who read whatever I write? Am I going to feed them something that is going to encourage, edify, motivate, warn or is it going to be something that is defamatory, slander, gossip, accusation? Be merciful and respectful to those who follow you. Choose to not be the bad news carrier.

5. Tackle the issue with wisdom.

If it really bothers you, meet with that person, or write a personal email or direct message to the person you feel has wronged you.

Suggestion: You may want to find out what their point of view is or what the situation is really like before you point fingers at them and lose the opportunity to speak into their life. Then take a stand or give your point of view. If that person is someone you don’t know personally or can’t get access to even if you tried, then go on your knees and pray for that brother/sister in Christ.

Now what if someone was unkind to you?

The other side of the coin. What if someone was making wild accusations about you and slandering your name? How do you react then? The resurgence blog came up with some good points and with it, here are my thoughts that I’d like to share with you:

1. Don’t respond.

Yes, my friends, you heard it right. Your response to the person publicly or privately will only empower and draw more attention to them; making them more powerful. Your friends responding to them will have the same effect as well. Only consider charges with evidence, not accusations that are unfounded. (1 Timothy 5:19)

2. Don’t have contact.

There is no reason why you should entertain or have any contact with someone who is an “unreasonable” critic. If they want to meet with you, it has to be with your prior permission – in a safe place other than your home – with a witness with you.

3. Get someone else involved.

Get someone mature to follow the comments to see if there is any credible threat of violence or any other court issues. But don’t hang around there feeding your heart with the garbage that is thrown at you. Don’t get pulled in. Now is when you need to Guard Your Heart the most as the enemy is trying to take your spirit down!

4. Protect your family.

Your family should not be affected by this garbage. Protect their hearts from being wounded from unkind people. Do what is necessary to keep them away from hurting people.

5. This is a test.

You may have better replies to give those people but here is where you need to practice self-control. If you had enemies, don’t freak out, our master Jesus had enemies too. Keep on doing what you have to do with all integrity before the Lord, time will prove you out. You will face this not just in this season but all your life and this is what should make you stronger! Let’s go!

Giving Godly Criticism

And finally, here is a brief quote from Justin Taylor on giving criticism in a godly way.

  • I see my brother/sister as one for whom Christ died (1 Corinthians 8:11; Hebrews 13:1)
  • I come as an equal, who also is a sinner (Romans 3:9,23).
  • I prepare my heart lest I speak out of wrong motives (Proverbs 16:2; 15:28; 16:23).
  • I examine my own life and confess my sin first (Matthew 7:3-5).
  • I am always patient, in it for the long haul (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 13:4).
  • My goal is not to condemn by debating points, but to build up through constructive criticism (Ephesians 4:29).
  • I correct and rebuke my brother gently, in the hope that God will grant him the grace of repentance even as I myself repent only through His grace (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
I am sure that I will have to from time to time come back to this post and remind myself to show mercy as Jesus does, but I think it will be worth every bit of it.
Now before you roll, take a minute to share your mind.
Your moment of truth: Have you had these moments online when you completely lost it? When was it? Have people been mean to you? What lessons did you learn? Discuss your story below with the GTH community.