Anger is a tough emotion. We’ve all been there. You’re browsing through your social media feed and you see a post or comment that is “all kinds of wrong”, and you’re driven to contribute to the conversation.
Normally open dialogue is good, but watch how those same people if sitting across the table from each other, and you get a completely different conversation.
I believe that much is lost in online communication like tone of voice, body language, etc. So if you have a response that you would normally filter before saying, you’re more prone to just post it as a comment not thinking about how it will be received by all your friends.
Perhaps we all feel like we’re still in those “chat rooms” back in the 90’s where you could be whatever you wanted and say whatever you wanted, and no one really knew who you were, where you lived, and who you’re friends were. Technology has grown so much that we don’t recognize that our lives are fully accessible online.
“And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” Ephesians 4:26
It is challenging for those who find themselves hurt or angry because of what a friend or family member is saying online. Many in our society believe that if someone believes differently than them, then they have the right to disrespect the opinions of others. This is self-righteous behavior. What should our response be to those who challenge us in this world? If you have chosen to follow Christ, then God has a profound impact on how we treat others, especially those closest to us.
We see in 1 Peter 2:17 that we are to
“Show proper respect to everyone. Love the community of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17
1. Show Proper Respect to Everyone
If you’re struggling with feelings of anger or hostility, take a break and walk away. Find something you like about that person and think about it. Then come back to the situation.
Remember, just because someone doesn’t share your opinion, it doesn’t give you the right to belittle or make them feel inferior in any way. Challenging their thinking like, “have you considered this?” or “How did you get to that conclusion?” can lead to a better understanding on both sides.
Responding in an angry way is sure to put the other person on the defensive.
2. Love the community of believers
It is our job to help each other. It’s not easy to be a person with a deep and personal relationship with our creator, let alone be criticized by others on the same journey. So if you have an issue with something someone said, perhaps it is better to take the conversation offline and have a heart-to-heart.
3. Have respect for God
On the same hand, if someone is attacking you for your faith. By all means speak up. Tell the truth. Don’t return one bad comment with another. It’s hard to maintain a respectful tone and body language when someone is coming against you in a hostile way. Truthfully, God has given you all the strength you need to speak the truth about your faith and experiences.
4. Honor the king
By far our society doesn’t respect people in positions of authority. Respecting those in authority also respects God in that we’re setting the tone and being an example to others. Its not easy to speak up when challenged by leaders. Take the first step and speak the truth.
All things considered, we don’t have to agree to be respectful. Bringing different opinions to the table is healthy when done in a respectful way.