The Internet is a wonderful tool. Thanks to the Internet we can reach people with the gospel we never would have been able to reach before. We can stay in touch with friends from college. We can listen to podcasts from our favorite preachers. We can fill our minds with wonderful, essentially free worship music (thanks Pandora). We can watch silly cat videos and try to figure out what the fox said and be encouraged that Jesus is always greater than man-made religion. We can download Bible apps and Candy Crush apps and productivity apps. The Internet is great.
But the Internet has also made it possible to be an obssessive speck detector. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus said:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
One of our great, constant, incessant temptations is to always see the small sinful speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the colossal sinful log in our own eye. The Internet has increased this temptation exponentially. Every time we log on to Facebook or scroll through our Twitter feed we will see a million sinful specks. Someone complaining about their job. A prominent pastor saying something we strongly disagree with. A blogger ranting and raving about the failings of the church as a whole. A friend saying making an inappropriate joke. A million people, a million specks.
When we see these specks our immediate temptation is to point out the speck. We post a long reply about why we disagree with this pastor or this blogger. We get involved in a heated digital argument with a friend about the appropriateness of their complaining. We write an open letter (why is everyone always writing open letters?) to everyone who disagrees with us. We post a string of scathing scriptures in a comment thread, all of which condemn the speck we’re seeing.
Is it always wrong or inappropriate to engage in digital disagreement? Of course not. But it seems to me that we would be wise to heed Jesus’ advice when it comes to our online behavior. Before we judge someone else we should ask the following questions:
- Where do I see this sinful behavior in my own life? Do I need to repent first before I address their behavior?
- Where do I see God at work in that person’s life? How can I give thanks to God for them?
- Do I want the Lord judging me by the same standard I am judging this person?
- Do I really need to post this correction or rebuke or open letter? Will this really accomplish anything good?
- Is my speech giving grace to those who hear? (Ephesians 4:29)
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it can also turn us into speck detectors. Being a speck detector is a miserable way to live. It’s no fun. To bear the weight of always trying to correct others is…well, unbearable. By God’s grace, let’s pull the digital logs out of our eyes before we point out the specks in the eyes of others.