Blogging brings joy when its message is useful to readers. If the timing is right and the message is challenging, then the result might be a course correction that yields a personal blessing to the reader. The hand of the Lord in using the blog becomes obvious.
But posting a blog can be expensive as well. Most of the issues about which bloggers write are either cultural or personal issues. Yet, the very nature of a blog demands that whatever your point, it must be made in five hundred to a thousand words. This restriction lends itself to being cryptic. Adequately making one’s point in the prescribed number of words without generating distress is less likely. When emotionally charged individuals interact with concepts that are at odds with their thinking, heat is more likely than light. Hence, the blog may bring hurt rather than understanding or healing to the reader.
Most of the time the writer of a blog intends to make a positive contribution. I frequently write on marriage issues, since there is a steady flow of marital problems through my office. Some quirk that I have observed becomes the subject of a blog. It is my hope that other marriage counselors will identify with the quirk and be able to utilize the insight that God graciously led me to as they aid couples in resolving the same issue. The only possible expense involved in this blog is being critiqued by those who find my insight or methodology faulty.
However, suppose in my efforts to give reality and plausibility to the case, I include far too many identifying details, which is an easy mistake to make when reaching for authenticity. Now I have exposed my counselee. In so doing, I have also exposed myself to an accusation of libel. Or, in another scenario, I might carelessly throw out a statistic without checking its source. In this instance minimal credibility is attached to the argument I am making. While this may not create liability, it certainly generates the expense of lowering my credibility and may propel others to unwarranted conclusions.
Blogging can lead to character assassination. It becomes a safe place to say things we would not say face-to-face or in a public arena. It is easy to use unkind sarcasm, and in the process, fail to fulfill Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind one to another….” The warnings of James regarding the tongue are often violated with the pen or computer keyboard (James 3:5-6).
Another expense of blogging could be called the “investment factor.” When you blog you are investing your words in the cloud—often many clouds. What you write today may grow and produce high interest, but the yield may not be what you desire. What you intend to say might not be what people reflect in their various interpretations—but what people perceive is what gets proliferated through a maze of blogs! It is like the old party game. What you said to the person on your right, which was the starting point of the game, is a rather different statement after passing through the other eight people at your table. At the table it is a game and we all laugh. In the real world, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, reading what you wrote—and not everyone might be laughing.
So, here is my challenge: blogger beware! What you write and what people perceive may be very different from what you intend. Keep your emotions in check—not easy when you choose to write commentary on cultural and political concerns. Guard your words—certain genres of expression are very open to misunderstanding when used in writing (e.g., sarcasm without appropriate facial expressions can easily be read as arrogance or judgment). Remember the wisdom of Proverbs regarding speech: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). This is a good verse to remember if you are an angry blogger. Proverbs 15:1 will help if you are crafting a blog that will be useful for addressing an emotionally charged issue rather than merely igniting a fire. Before writing such a blog, it is also be wise to consider Proverbs 29:11: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Or these words from James 1:20: “A man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Words are not simply ink stains on paper. Words are powerful. God spoke and the world came into being. God wrote the Ten Commandments that gave his people the potential power to frame a moral life that enabled them to glorify Him and live harmoniously with one another. For us, words can crush the spirit or communicate life. They can exacerbate wounds or heal hurts. Proverbs 12:6 tells us, “The tongue [pen, keyboard] has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Blog posting is expensive! Our words will be judged. Jesus put it this way: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken [or written]. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Paul exhorts us : “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths [or from your pen or keyboard], but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
So, again, here is my challenge. Blogger beware! Your Lord is reading your blog. Let your writing be well pleasing to Him. In so doing, you lower the risk of his judgment and the judgment of others.