Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Is Social Media The Modern Day Tongue?

James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Photo on 7-6-16 at 3.42 PMI remember a number of sermons on the danger of the tongue. I’ve heard sermons on gossip – sermons on slander – sermons on idle conversations. I’ve heard teachings on being positive and not negative. I’ve heard sermons on how words can hurt and how we should consider what we say before we say it.

We’ve probably all heard that old saying – sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me – yet words do hurt and can cause lasting pain. Verbal abuse is real abuse – just because the bruises are not visually evident (at times) doesn’t mean there hasn’t been hurt and pain.

We should all think before we speak. Another saying about the tongue – credited to Abraham Lincoln – goes this way – Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. James 3:1–12 – 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. We need to be careful what we say dear readers.

I wonder if social media is the modern tongue? It seems like people will say/type anything and post it – often without thinking how it might hurt others or impact their witness if they are Christians. Early on in this political season I posted some of my thoughts and even liked or disliked posts by others and people in my church – people I love – were hurt and upset that their pastor would respond in such a way (they disagreed with my views). I’ve since tried hard to resist posting anything political – because I realize that the congregation I serve is very diverse and my circle of friends are diverse as well. Yet I get posts on social media from pastors and friends strongly supporting one candidate or the other or worse – saying terrible things about the candidate they do not support. That is the part that hurts the most I think. I haven’t appreciated the candidates posting or saying negative things about the other candidate(s) – and all have done so.

Watching the RNC and the DNC reminds me that some people try to tear down someone else in order to look better rather than being the best they can be and reflect positivity. Please dear readers – let’s not post the negative – let’s think before we post – and consider the example we are setting for those who follow us on social media. What would Jesus do – should be something we consider for sure. I feel certain that Jesus wouldn’t post on social media some of the things I’ve been reading – especially the negative things!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.


July 26, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Excellent thoughts
    part of our search for the best candidate requires a respectful search for the best estimate of the truth regarding all situations and candidates and how that reflects our views;
    however, creating polarization on issues, and demonizing others, are simply manipulation of the masses and forcing your views on others

    I think Lincoln got his quote from Proverbs

    regarding gossip, slander, negativity, taming the tongue, etc., perhaps a sermon on these forms of verbal abuse could include a discussion on emotional or psychological abuse; how much of our political discussions and daily interactions include these forms of negativity?


    Comment by Richard Reynnells | July 26, 2016 | Reply

  2. Hi Ray. Thanks for your daily blog. It has become part of my daily devotionals. It, absolutely, gives me something to think about as I start my day. Thanks for all you do!


    Comment by David Lewis | July 26, 2016 | Reply

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