Chat Room by Elsie Schuett Flynn

James 1:19 (NLT)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

I am a member of a few on-line discussion boards. The one that I’ve been a member of the longest centers around a specific breed of dog. It is a wonderful site offering a wealth of knowledge from its members. I’ve learned so much about my dog’s breed as well as dogs in general. There are sections that address all aspects of this breed: breeding, puppies, the wonder of their ears, sports, jobs they perform, behavior and training issues, health and wellbeing, a senior center, a picture gallery to share photos and compete in monthly theme contests, and, a place of memorializing and finding comfort for one that has gone on to “rainbow bridge.”

There is a social section where members can post jokes and other fun things; there is another section open to discuss issues not related to dogs. Conversations in the “chat room” range from birth announcements to seeking advice on the purchase of a new car or computer; sharing a revelation in ones life or venting about the cost of gasoline or an annoying sister-in-law. Like anywhere else, talks about politics and religion bring out the worst in people and start heated debates that often result in the conversation being locked by a moderator.

Lately, there has been a lot of nit-picking and bickering all through the site. An argument will start over the silliest of things, hurt feelings result and another member leaves the group. I believe that parents raise their children to behave in a manner that won’t embarrass them when out in public, to obey rules and regulations of society, and to be kind, courteous and respectful of others. I believe most of us were raised that way. So why is it then that some posters find it so easy to be rude and disrespectful while on web communities? Do they feel they can hide behind their screen name? “I’ll never see these people; they’ll never see my face; they don’t know who I am.” Why are they so arrogant and say things on-line that they wouldn’t say if the person were sitting across the table from them? Why, when someone seeks advise in hopes of finding a solution to a problem are they reprimanded and belittled for allowing the situation to happen? Does the responder have that “I-know-everything” and “I’m-perfect” attitude with everyone or just when they are on-line?

It only takes one phrase to make or break a person. A kind word can save a person’s life; a harsh one could make a person want to end their life. Just because we go by a fictitious name and no one knows who we are does not mean we can just say whatever to whom ever. God sees all, knows all, and hears all. He knows what is in your heart. He reads every word you type.

“Dog-mOm-N-dAd” may not know who you are, but God sure does. Express your opinion, but only in a way that is not intentionally hurtful to anyone else. Obey the rules established by the administrators and owner of the site. At all times, show good citizenship. Remember it is real live people you are talking with, not computer ‘bots.

Father God,
Help me to always apply good manners and respect when participating in an on-line conversation. Help me to discern which threads to participate in and which to avoid. I pray that every word I type will be kind and courteous, helpful, not hurtful, and that everyone will know by the example I set that I am a child of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

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