Out of the Abundance of the Heart, the Fingers Type1
Anger. Bigotry. Slander. Malice. Destruction. Welcome to the comment sections of blogs, the walls of Facebook, and the posts of online forums. The imaginary barrier of security has created people as bold as lions in private who otherwise are as weak as gerbils in public. To put it bluntly: people speak to one another in the cyber world in ways that they never would in person.
Such behavior does not crystalize in a vacuum. It forms through a series of self justifications. We become deluded concerning our behavior in a number of ways. We might convince ourselves that the authentic version of ourselves lies in the public sphere. We come to believe that the private, occasional behavior does not reflect the essence of who we are. Unknowingly, we have fallen into the compartmentalizing trap. We place our online communication in a box that we have become convinced is separate from the real us. We have compartmentalized our public sphere from our private sphere.
Ironically, this private sphere is actually a public sphere. We may type in private, but our words are displayed in public. No matter how hard we scrub the outside persona, the inside reality comes to light (cf. Matt 23:23-28). How we talk and interact in the comments section of a blog or news article is not a part of who we are, it is the heart of who we are.
Another delusion resides in believing that this behavior only comes through provocation. Our words were incited by others. We are simply responding to being provoked. We may even recognize the weight of our words, but rationalize their use because of other people’s actions. We have convinced ourselves that our hearts aren’t that vile, that we simply lash out because of the foolishness of others. After all, it was the woman’s fault. It was the serpent’s fault (cf. Gen 3:12-13).
If Jesus were walking around and preaching today, I’m sure he would have said something along these lines: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the fingers type.” In his first century context, it sounded like this: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What flies out of our mouths finds its source in our hearts. We always mean to say what we say. Speech pours out our mouths from our hearts.
Every senseless word springs from our hearts. Every angry tirade springs from our hearts. Every hurtful stab springs from our hearts. Every word at every moment comes from the heart. Therefore, our mouths become gateways into our hearts. And our hearts reveal the real us.
Our inaudible words are no different. Our conversations on social media, our comments on news articles, our thoughts on public forums - all of them spring from our heart. All of them reveal who we really are. This is why Jesus can make the shocking statement he does in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word. . . .” Maybe if he were preaching today he would say, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account of every careless post.”