People in Britain spend more time online than they do sleeping: 8 hours 41 minutes a day according to an Ofcom survey in 2014. That’s twice as much time as the average person spends watching television. The same “average” person checks their phone 113 times a day.
Last Sunday, I was asked to preach on the theme of being a disciple online at All Saints Church,
Woodlands, near Doncaster. What does the Bible have to say about how to be a Christian on Twitter or Facebook, in emails or texts? How are we salt and light in that part of God’s world?
I turned to the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Proverbs is made up of over 400 short, pithy
sayings, most under 140 characters. They are thought provoking, memorable and full of wit, just like a good tweet.
So here are my top ten Proverbs from the Old Testament for users of Facebook and Twitter and other online media. The words in italics are my own, very short, application of each verse.
- A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches
Take care of your reputation online and offline
- Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than a brother
Friend is a big word not a small word; friendship is a gift and a blessing
- Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another
We grow as people through wit, humour and interaction online and offline
- Better is a little with righteousness than a large income with injustice
We spend much of our time online buying and selling and banking. Financial honesty and transparency is key; pay your taxes
- Like a city breached, without walls is one who lacks self control
Self control is needed in normal life and even more in the private world of online interaction. When it goes, we are soon overwhelmed.
- A gossip goes about telling secrets but one who is trustworthy keeps a confidence
Holding confidences is as important in texts, emails, facebook and twitter as in real life
- A gentle tongue is a tree of life but perverseness in it breaks the spirit
Words have real power to build up and to pull down. Use them well.
- The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels, they go down to the inner parts of the body
So do rumours circulating on the internet. Beware.
- Like vinegar on a wound is one who sings songs to a heavy heart
It’s well worth taking the trouble over what you say. Engage brain and heart before posting.
- A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver
And its worth taking trouble over the way you say it….