The last few days have unfolded a bit like a summer blockbuster of the apocalyptic zombie variety. Social media is ablaze with hot takes ranging from encouraging Bible verses to conspiracy theories, and as we seek to understand the ever-changing landscape these events inspire, it’s important we communicate wisely.
Guard Your Mind
Psalm 119:24 is applicable to this present circumstance: “Your decrees are my delight and my counselors.”
This verse doesn’t mean that the Bible is full of appropriate hand-washing guidelines or CDC updates (Although Scripture is not silent on this front. See the Book of Numbers and James 4:8.). The beauty of common grace means that God has gifted a variety of infectious disease specialists to tell us best practices for stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Yet no amount of information we read or listen to can give us control over this situation. God sits on His throne regardless of whether the coronavirus is reminding us of our lack of control or not. We cannot guard our mouths if our minds are not cognizant of the fact that the most important Counselor we can have is the Lord.
Guard Your Heart
Proverbs 4:23 instructs the reader: “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
Our hearts need to be as disciplined as our minds. Just as we need to remind ourselves that no amount of information can give us control over this situation, we also need to remind our emotions that while paralyzing fear is a completely human reaction, it is ultimately a fruitless one.
The things that we know to be true about God—His faithful, steadfast love, which never ceases (Lamentations 3:22-23)—do not cease to be true in times of stress, trouble, or calamity. His truth and His Word ought to hold far more weight in our thought patterns and emotions than the constant whirl of information. We cannot control our speech if our hearts are easily tossed by every news update.
Guard Your Tongue
Scripture is clear that our hearts are linked to our tongues. It’s a link that is repeated often throughout the Scripture (Proverbs 10:11; Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), and one we would do well to remember during this stressful time.
This is a time where our hearts are given toward disquiet, restlessness, and fear of the unknown. And the temptation to speak out of that fear, restlessness, and disquiet is very real. But when we speak from that place, we begin a vicious cycle: our hearts feel the fear that fuels our tongues, that then fuels our fingers, that then fuel doubt in others.
As easy as it is to give in to selfishness in days like these, we must continue to fight to love others well with our words by weighing their motivation and their impact. Are we communicating in a way that guards both our hearts and the hearts of our hearers, or are we being tossed around by fear and sensationalism? Are we encouraging wisdom, or are we functioning from selfishness?
Love With Your Mind, Heart, & Tongue
The Greatest Commandment is our greatest ally as we seek to speak helpfully in the midst of this pandemic: “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
Love the Lord by staying steeped in His Word so that you can know exactly how He would counsel you against this mounting fear. And love your neighbor by using your words to point to the truth that you’re reading from the Word.
It sounds simple, but don’t let a simple concept fool you: it’s difficult in practice. Virus or no, it’s something that believers will have to work hard to practice until we’re called home. Stay safe, be on guard, and look for opportunities to love others well with your words.