September 14, 2021

Make Me an Instrument of Peace Online, Lord

Written by Shana Schutte

Emotions are like children. It’s OK to let them ride in the car with you, but do not let them drive.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 14, 2021

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

While the internet is a useful tool to share kindness and love, have you also noticed there’s a whole lot-o hate online? People shaming one another, lashing out, and using sarcasm and bullying to put down one another. Oh! How such division must grieve God’s heart.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1)!

Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s unkind—or even blatantly nasty—sentiments, or perhaps you’ve gotten angry and lashed out at others now and then too. Regardless of which describes you, maybe you feel you need to do better; you need to either love more when you are attacked, or you need to be slow to get angry and slow to respond. 

The good news is that as believers in Christ we have the amazing honor of bringing peace into the world by how we relate to others, off—and on—social media. And (good news!) our responses can bring us peace too. 

I would like to encourage you with some positive actions to take when online exchanges become unpleasant.   

The first thing to remember is not to allow your negative emotions to boss you around. The minute you allow any ungodly feelings to guide you in your response to someone who has been unkind or insulting, the other person immediately has control over you. And when they have control over you, you will not be productive in solving the relational problem at hand because your emotions will blind you to what is really happening. Additionally, you will also not be able to be a good witness for Christ. 

So, this means that when someone comes against you with an insult, or expresses an opinion with which you strongly disagree, you may feel angry, and you may want to lash out, but you must remember not to give your emotions permission to rule the show. 

James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry . . .”

When someone insults you or says something rude, your immediate response may be to quickly tap out a nasty message back and tell them how horrible, rude, uninformed, ignorant, or stupid they are. You may be tempted to share an “enlightening” sarcastic statement to put them in their place.

But this is not the way of the wise. Instead, being wise means being slow to answer. Being slow in this way will give you the space you need to decide what to do; it will help you clearly assess what the person means, and it will keep you from being blinded by strong ungodly feelings.  

So instead of immediately responding, get up out of your chair or move away from your phone and let the situation sit for a while. Things often make more sense later when we walk away so our emotions can cool down. While you are waiting to respond, ask God to provide you with insight into the situation and what the person said. Then ask Him what to say. Perhaps you can respond in such a way that brings light, wisdom, and grace into the interaction. Or, perhaps the Lord will show you that you shouldn’t respond at all as some people only want to wrangle and there can never be peace with them.

One of my bonus daughters once said, “Emotions are like children. It’s OK to let them ride in the car with you, but do not let them drive.” When it comes to dealing with negative online interactions, how true this statement is! 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Help me to remember that in all the words I speak that I am representing you. Help me to be wise with my words. Amen.


Application

While you are online, look for interactions where there is discord, division, and rudeness. Ask the Lord to show you the wise way to respond should you find yourself in a similar situation.


Related Reading

Matthew 18:15-17; Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:26


Worship Resource

Greg Ferguson: Peacemaker


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