As I was reading in Psalms today this passage struck me:
You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. -Psalm 50:19-21 (ESV)
I thought about how we do not tame our tongues. We give our tongues a lot of license when it comes to criticism. Sometimes I think we believe the God is critical so we have an excuse to gossip and slander each other. The way of the righteous person is to speak evil of no one.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. -Titus 3:1-2
This is Paul’s instruction to Timothy on how to teach others God’s ways. Notice Paul says, ‘to speak evil of no one’. He does not add, ‘unless it’s true of course!’ Later Paul adds, ‘to show perfect courtesy to all people.’ He does not add, ‘I mean just the ones you like!’ If Paul is instructing us this way it is because this is the way that God deals with us while we live on the earth. Afterwards we are judged for how well we obey this instruction, and if we repent of our sin in this area. Notice in the Psalm God says this:
“These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.”
God does not immediately correct us when we speak ill of someone, but just because he is silent he is not in agreement. If we think that just because God lets us say things he does not care what we say, we will be in for a big surprise when he confronts us with a rebuke.
And I would not make the mistake and assume that God gives us a free pass on the internet either.