Last week one of the British newspapers discussed the problem of “trolls,” people who use the internet to provoke or demean other people. Most of those who do so use a pseudonym or “handle” which disguises their true identity. The problem has become widespread and in some cases deadly.
The word “troll” is internet slang which describes inflammatory and abusive behavior. No one really knows how the word came to be used, though my favorite idea is that of fishing. The provacateur “trolls” or casts bait to catch someone.
Interestingly, the Bible uses this kind of descriptive behavior to describe the tongue. This is a real problem. The Apostle James says “every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7-8).
How do we solve the problem of “trolling?” Or, for that matter, how do we solve the problem of abusive and insulting speech? How do we use our language to bless and not to curse (James 3:9-12)?
We need to teach our children to use speech in the way God desires. My grandmother refused to let her children use the word “stupid.” While that seems strange today, it is not strange at all in the context of Scripture. Jesus demanded the members of His kingdom treat others with dignity, respect, and love. He said those “who insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22). My grandmother obviously knew what she spoke about.
We need to submit all of our language (spoken and written) to God. While we may not be able to tame our tongues, God is fully able to change sinful people and sinful behavior.
I have found anything I give to God changes for the better.
May you and I submit all of the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts to our God who desires to conform us to His own image.
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