I was listening to a podcast on “cancel culture” yesterday. And what was kind of interesting is that the commentators confessed they were somewhat fearful taking on the subject lest they themselves should offend and themselves be “canceled.”
Probably not surprising that at one point they started talking about the enabling power of the internet in this modern day culture of everyone being able to have a voice as accuser, judge, jury, and executioner. That you needed to be careful about what you posted, or tweeted, or re-tweeted because of how quickly “news” could travel. What’s more, not just what you did or said yesterday, but what you did or said 10 or 20 years ago. Because, as has often been pointed out, while a tweet or a picture might take only a minute to post, once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.
One of the take aways? Be careful what you put out there, because you never know who’s listening or watching.
But what if that’s always been true? Even before the internet? Even before computers? What if Someone has always been listening and watching, knowing every word spoken and every deed done?
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
(Proverbs 15:1-3 ESV)
Since our men’s study in Proverbs last year, I’m reading Proverbs a bit differently. Trying not to just see each verse as a random thought about different aspects of skillful living, but open to seeing them, at times, as intentionally grouped together. While each verse can stand alone, sometimes they are ordered purposefully in proximity. And in that, can convey some of the deeper connections and workings of the way of wisdom. This morning, the first several verses in Proverbs 15 seem to have a couple of repeated themes which, in proximity, can have a powerful impact.
The big idea I’m reminded of this morning? Be careful what you say, and what you do, because the eyes (and ears) of the LORD are in every place.
Some form of speech is mentioned 7 times in the first 11 verses. And the omnipresence and omniscience of Jehovah, “the existing One”, is mentioned twice. Is there a connection? Me thinks there could be.
Remembering that our God knows every word, and the heart behind every word, can have not only a purifying effect on our speech, but a governing effect, as well.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 12:36-37 ESV)
Cautious with our speech not out of fear of being “canceled” by God, for “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn. 1:9). But aware of every word in reverent fear of grieving our saving God, not wanting to “sin so that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1).
Cautious with our speech because we are ambassadors of the way of Wisdom. Wanting to “set the believers an example in speech” (1Tim. 4:12). Wanting our speech to “always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). To be marked with “sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Tit. 2:8).
Wanting Him who knows every word and every deed, to be pleased with those He’s called to speak of the kingdom of His rule.
Wanting to avoid the verbal stumbling blocks of harsh words, or foolish talk. Not out of fear of some “cancel culture” but out of service to the One who calls people to a consecrating culture.
That’s the connection I’m chewing on this morning.
And that, by His grace and for His glory.