This is the third and final post about the August 29, 2016, post by Pastor Mark Dever entitled “12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online” at the 9Marks website. Link: https://www.9marks.org/article/12-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-posting-something-online/ . All of these questions have merit. Pastor Dever’s article is very worthwhile to read. After this, I discuss Questions 9-12. I discussed Questions 1-5 and 6-8 in earlier posts.
The ninth question is: “Is it boasting?” citing Proverbs 27:2 (ESV):
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
How do this passage impact what I post on my blog? Hopefully, the content of my posts focuses on the topic of the post and not me. I have no intention to draw attention to myself. The closest I may come to referencing myself is to describe a Bible study tool or technique I develop. For example, the Graphōble Hybrid Bible Copying Journal is something I developed to copy Scripture after looking at the Journible tool (see my posts of November 13, 2019, and October 31, 2019).
The tenth question is: “Is the tone appropriate?” The Scriptural citations are set out below:
2 John 1, 12 (ESV) – 1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, … 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
Colossians 4:6 (ESV) – 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) – 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
2 Timothy 2:24–25 (ESV) – 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
2 John 1, 12, makes it clear that the Apostle John would rather talk face-to-face than write. When combined, the other three passages appear to reveal characteristics of the content of an internet post.
One must try to make sure the content of their internet posts is “gracious” and “seasoned with salt.” What this means is our communications should be pleasant, wholesome, interesting, and appealing. See Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (p. 100). New York: United Bible Societies; Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 346). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. Our internet posts are not to be “corrupting talk” and are to be “good for building up.” As Anders writes, “This is the Bible’s version of, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We are to speak only words that build up and encourage others.” What we say should “give grace” so that it is a blessing. Our speech must be “kind” meaning it displays a peaceable attitude. See Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 289). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
The content of an internet post should not be “quarrelsome.” We should not display selfish attitudes and manners are inconsistent with the nature of God. See Larson.
What we say in an internet post ought to be such that it, “fits the occasion.” One commentator writes, “It should meet the needs of those with whom one is speaking, or the need of the occasion, whatever the occasion requires;”. See Bratcher et al.
Through our words in an internet post, we must “be able to teach.” Larson writes, “Though truth can seem harsh, carrying with it conviction or judgment of sin, it must be delivered with compassion and kindness because God always works for the restoration or repentance of the sinner.” If our communication includes correcting, it must be done so “with gentleness.”
How do these passages impact what I post on my blog? The content of my posts needs to carry out the above characteristics. While I do not intend any blog post to be “personal” toward someone if so, I need to consider whether a face-to-face discussion would be better. Pastor Dever’s statement is true:
The literal tone of your voice and the look on your face fill out so much of what you mean. In a personal conversation, you can more quickly understand that something needs clarifying and clarify it. The Internet doesn’t sanctify anger or frustration.
The eleventh question is: “Is it wrong to say nothing?” The citation is Romans 1:14 (ESV), which reads:
14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
The context of verse 14 is a section in which Paul expresses his desire to visit Rome. The ESV translates the Greek noun opheiletēs as “under obligation” and it means, “one who is under obligation in a moral or social sense, one under obligation.” See Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 742). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Such an obligation may relate back to verses 11-12 (ESV):
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
How does this passage impact what I post on my blog? I will not hesitate to post an article if the subject matter is such that I have a moral obligation to post it. Much of my blog focuses on issues about technical aspects of Bible study. Sometimes, hermeneutics plays a role in one’s theology, which relates to a societal issue. In these cases, I will not hesitate to post an article. As Dr. Dever states:
Our freedom of speech is a wonderful stewardship! We want to use it well and responsibly.
The twelfth question is: “What do others advise?” The Scriptural citations are as follows:
Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) – 14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 15:22 (ESV) – 22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 24:6 (ESV) – 6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
The principle is clear. If I obtain wise counsel, I reduce the chance of saying something with bad consequences. As one commentator writes about Proverbs 11:14:
To depend entirely upon one’s own judgment is the height of folly. Even the wisest and godliest are often given to blunders and errors of discernment; for infallibility is a dream in dulged in concerning one man alone. To weigh a matter in the presence of God; to invite the counsel of those whose experience and spirituality evidence ability to try the things that differ, is the course of wisdom
Ironside, H. A. (1908). Notes on the Book of Proverbs (pp. 119–120). Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Bros.
How do these passages impact what I post on my blog? I plan to seek wise counsel when the subject matter is controversial or has the potential to raise a dispute. To post content that argues for the importance of doing Bible study ought not to raise legitimate controversy. The same goes for a post about Bible study methodology. When my post contains content that touches upon a sensitive issue, I plan to seek wise counsel. I also hope to be slow about posting keeping in mind Dr. Dever’s comment:
Speed of response is both an ability of the Internet and a temptation to speak too quickly (contra James 1:19; Prov. 10:19; 14:29; 16:32; 17:27).
Mark Dever ends his post of the 12 questions with the statement:
Perhaps you could write down these questions and ask a friend to look over your social media with these concerns in mind. Or even, ask someone who you know disagrees with you on some issue you’ve posted on or written about and see what they would say. So many of us might be able to improve our care. Can you imagine how much care the apostles took when writing their letters?
Yes, I plan to make a table with these questions and try to check each off before I post an article on my blog. If anyone would like a copy of the 12 questions tool, I plan to use, please email me and I will send you a PDF version once complete.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please send me any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comments feature of the blog.
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