Justine Sacco, a 30 year old senior director of corporate communications for a large company, begin sending out tweets on her trip to South Africa. During her lay over in London she jokingly sent out a tweet saying “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS…” https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html
As she pushed “send” to her 170 followers she would have never imagined how her world would be altered during the 11 hour flight to Cape Town. Her tweet was re-tweeted and went viral as thousands read it and responded with outrage. Her careless words cost her job, friends, and reputation.
Social media has vomited out opinions, personal bias, and hate at a supersonic speed for all to see. How should followers of Christ respond to to this cultural phenomenon? I recently read a book by R.T. Kendall called More of God. Kendall states that before we speak we should ask ourselves four questions, represented in the acrostic NEED (p. 110).
Is it Necessary?- Is it necessary to say what I am about to say? If not, I won’t say it! Remember too, when words are many, sin is not absent (Prov. 10:19).
Is it Emancipating?- Do you realize that 100% of people you will meet today have a guilt problem over something? Say what will set them free! That is what Jesus did with His words. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Is it Energizing? – There are two kinds of people: the energizers and the complainers. Complainers will zap your energy, however energizers will breathe words of life and strengthen you.
Is it Dignifying? – Through out the Gospels we see Jesus using words to give people dignity. The woman caught in adultery dreaded how Jesus respond, but He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
Patty and I were recently out with another couple and I was “sharing” something about another person when I heard her quietly say “NEED, NEED!” It took me a moment and then I promptly shut my mouth.
So the next time you send out a Tweet or make a comment on Facebook, ask yourself, “Does this NEED to be said?” Will my words bring blessing and life to those who will read or hear them? I know I can’t do this without the help of the Holy Spirit, who only speaks Truth & Life (John 14:16). Daily I have to pray “Holy Spirit take control of my tongue today let me know when and what to speak!” May the Holy Spirit grant us grace to speak words of blessing, but also to receive His gracious forgiveness when we stumble.