@CarsonWeitnauer Great question. This question is very multifaceted and I look forward to hearing from others. I think if I were forced to pick one word that should characterize our speech it would be gracious. And I want to say - I have been pleasantly surprised by how gracious everyone I have interacted with on Connect has been - what a great community! Consider these two Bible passages.
Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Proverbs 16:24 - Gracious speech is like clover honey— good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
But what does gracious speech look like?
Put the Person Before the Point
I have been pleasantly surprised by the graciousness of everyone on Connect - I just want to reiterate that fact. But I think in online forums it can be easy to put the point above the person, whereas we are called to love the person more than the point.
Philippians 2:3 - Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Think Before You Type
I knew a guy in college who started to literally pause for a couple of seconds before speaking to you. It was very awkward sometimes, but it was also very challenging. During the time he actually kept it up, I had to admit his words did indeed seem to be much more well thought out.
Before we speak/type, we need a filter to determine if what we are saying is helpful. In the past I’ve used the acronym NUT:
- Is it Necessary? (does it contribute to the conversation)
- Is it Uplifting? (not rude or unpleasant)
- Is it True? (flattery is not true and poorly researched answers could fall into the same category)
Going out of our way to be kind is important. We are to build each other up.
I Thessalonians 5:11 - Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
At Least Consider Silence as a Possibility
This comment is not meant to encourage not communicating. Part of the beauty of Connect is communicating what is on our hearts! It is simply to say that we should at least consider the possibility of silence as a way of double checking our own motives/heart.
Proverbs 17:27-28 - The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
And here are a few cultural proverbs whose origin seems to be uncertain:
- don’t speak unless you can improve the silence
- speech is silver, silence is golden
Never Type in Anger
As James said, especially when we are frustrated we should be slow to respond and quick to listen.
James 1:19-20 - My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Answer with Clarity, Gentleness and Respect
We should strive to give answers that are helpful to the questioner - well organized, thoughtful and respectful. As the classic passage on apologetics says in I Peter:
I Peter 3:15-16 - But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.