I love and hate the internet.
I am part of Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, so I can remember a time before the internet (it existed, but not in my world), but I can also remember my family’s first computer, when we first received internet (and it was dial-up), and when we received newer computers, when I received my first cell phone and then my first laptop.
I love the internet because it offers us new ways to connect to people we would have never met otherwise. We are offered community in different, exciting ways. However, I hate the internet because it also gives us the opportunity to be mean in all new ways.
Let me just tell you, the internet needs more grace and mercy.
I am not writing this because it’s the first time anyone has ever had these thoughts, nor do I think my humble words will inspire a movement. This isn’t anything new.
Honestly, I am writing because this simply because I saw someone tweet something today that was more hurtful than helpful. I could not think of any ways in which what was said could build anyone up, but I thought of several ways in which it could tear people down.
And that’s not how we are called to live.
This isn’t a call for censorship, though after years of hearing about cyber bullying, this is a call for loving each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells—no, commands—us to encourage each other and build each other up.
We all need more grace and mercy.
The aforementioned tweet caused an explosion of people sticking up for the person the original tweet tore down, which is good—we should stick up for each other. But, on the other than, we all just need to offer mercy.
In small groups at my church, we had a series where we explored our spiritual gifts. One week we talked about mercy, and so we had to define grace and mercy. It’s been said before by many people, I’m sure, but here it is: Grace is getting something for which we have nothing to deserve it. Mercy is not getting something we do deserve.
It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong when his or her statements. Our words hold so much power, and we are given the choice to build up or tear down. Granted, sometimes we must reach a point where the other party will not stop their hurtful words and we have to choose to not let them define us.
But, in the meantime, especially considering we are in the season of Lent, let’s realize we can have responsibility and our words hold power.
“Any voice that does not bear the presence of kindness is not the voice of God.”
And I just love that quote because it is so true.
I think everyone’s parents once told us if we didn’t have anything nice to say not to say anything at all. At least I know my mother told me that very same proverb. But I think we should go farther than just if what we are about to say is nice. I think before we open our mouths, we should ask:
Is what I am about to say useful, beautiful, helpful?
If the answer is no—and guys, this is probably a no-brainer—we should just keep our lips sealed.
We are not perfect people, but we can be loving people.