I love social media! Instagram is my favorite. I do admit, there are seasons that I fall prey to the time-killing scrolling habit. I often joke about how I need to literally move my apps around because when I attempt to return a text or check something on my calendar, my thumb auto clicks Insta and I’m done for at least 7 minutes until I realize I was led astray and sheepishly make my way back to my calendar app. But that’s not what this article is about. It’s about the blessed delete button.

Just this evening, as I was reading a post by a friend who had some not so nice things to say about another friend, I began my helpful, biblical, and probably truthfully loving response. Then I realized where I was. I was not sitting at a table with this person sharing life thoughts and ideas. I was not on a couch with a cup of coffee where she could read my facial expressions and receive an opportunity to reply to my reply in a timely conversational manner. There wasn’t the confidentiality of actual voiced or privately texted reply. I was on a social media platform about to pass judgment on a friend in a public way. Thank you Lord, for the delete button!

I am not anti-confrontation. Actually, I love a good heated discussion when done with healthy ground rules. I love being challenged by ideas and to be heard well when my own ideas challenge others. I don’t always love being the bearer of bad news when it’s one directional, but I do enjoy growth or learning oriented dialogue. But, I am not convinced every thought, agreeable or otherwise, belongs online. And here’s why.

• Proverbs10:19 NLT

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

• Proverbs 13:3 NASB

The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

• Proverbs 18:21 NIV

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

• Matthew 12:36 NASB

But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.

• Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

• James 1:26 NLT

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

These are just slim pickings of biblical references to how important and powerful our words are. The ability to speak life and control the ramblings of the mouth is actually attached to spiritual maturity. This is all referring to the spoken word. The written word is often even more dangerous. Its copy and paste-ability can allow a damaging thought to continue to burn people much longer than audible communication. Fortunately, we have the blessing of a delete button to partner with the responsibility of the written word. We do not have to press send to every thought we conjure up! We have the blessing of editing! This is not true in conversation when once a thought is said it cannot be sucked back into our dark and unhallowed minds.

Here is my encouragement to us all: think before you hit send. Edit if you need to. It’s ok to allow someone to post something ignorant, or mean, or just silly without our public opinion. There is a time and place for speaking up for what is more correct or challenging a posted thought. Sometimes that time and place are in the public social media forum. Sometimes, especially if it is a personal issue, it is not. I often send texts, private messages, or requests for face to face conversations in lieu of a potential hurtful correction or response to someone else’s post. Pray and ask God for the best way. I pray for guidance towards the best way to engage in social media. All things can be for His glory. This includes my Instagram. This includes my posted thoughts. This, praise Jesus, includes the delete button.

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Candace Cortez is the Executive Pastor at Koinonia Church. Any comments may be sent to candace@kchanford.com

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