Does “Loving my neighbor as myself” apply to Facebook?

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

People don’t necessarily have to know how smart you are; how cleaver your point; or what a great grasp on the politics, theology or life you might have. But they do need to know that you love them. If they leave thinking anything other than that, the conversation was not in keeping with the second greatest commandment that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

In Colossians 4, Paul makes an interesting comment. He says our conversations should be “full of grace and seasoned with salt.” The full of grace part, we get. Full of unmerited love— no problem in understanding Paul’s instruction. We need to love people (Again it’s fulfilling the second half of the greatest commandment discussion from Jesus— we are to love God and love people.). But what does “seasoned with salt” mean? In our vernacular, “salty” language is coarse, aggressive, sometimes even vulgar speech. “He/She cursed like a “salty” sailor.” Clearly, that is not Paul’s point.

Salt in the first century was valuable. It was so valuable that salt was used as a form of currency at times. Why so valuable? It was a food preservative. Salt kept meat from spoiling. Safe meat was an important necessity, in an age without refrigeration. For Paul, to have a conversation “seasoned with salt” meant that our words should preserve the message of Christ (What’s the message? We are to love God and love our neighbors). Our words should not spoil the gospel. Our words should bring out the flavor of grace.

This is such an important message for our current divisive times. Too often conversations turn “salty,” in the modern sense, and not “seasoned with salt” in the Pauline sense. Let that not be true of us. When in discussions (in person or on social media), what is said or what we post should be edifying, full of grace and always pointing to Jesus. For our conversations to be “seasoned with salt,” our words must be valuable. What we say matters, but how we say it and how the other person hears it also matters. If they don’t hear “Love,” then our communication does not line up with the second greatest commandment.

To love our neighbors as ourselves in 2020 means to speak or post on social media in such a manner that when you leave or log off, the other person need not know how smart, cleaver or even how spiritual you are; but they must know (second greatest commandment) that you love them. The final word, “seasoned with salt,” must always be love.

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