By LESLIE LUDY
Proverbs 23 tells us that “idle chatter leads only to poverty.” When we waste our precious time and energy on meaningless and trivial chitchat, we end up spiritually impoverished. And yet, living in a culture that is so heavily centered upon shallow frivolity, it is all too easy to fall into this trap. As women, we are especially prone to waste much of our time on fruitless, idle conversations (either verbally or via phone and computer).
During Paul’s evangelistic journeys in the book of Acts, he came upon a group of Athenians who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). Though at first they expressed an interest in hearing Paul’s message, only a few of them personally embraced the life-changing truth of Christ. The rest of the group was far too preoccupied with their all-consuming habit of idle chatter to come away with Jesus.
Second Timothy 2:16 says, “…shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” The term “idle babbling” means: “empty discussion, discussion of vain and useless matters.” What a perfect description of much of our modern communication! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest boards, and even personal blogs can often be breeding grounds for idle chatter, fruitless words, emotional ramblings, showing off of wit and personality, and exalting our own thoughts and opinions instead of God’s thoughts and opinions. These means of communication are not wrong in themselves, but they must be used for godly purposes instead of selfish ones. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (KJV). With all of today’s technology, it’s easy to say or write idle, meaningless words without even thinking about it. But Jesus says we must weigh each word we say (and write) in light of eternity. What a sobering reminder!
This kind of “idle babbling” is the opposite of the godly, fruitful, eternally-focused communication that we are called to as Christ-built women. Romans 14:19 says, “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
The word edify means; “to build someone up in their faith, to promote another person’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, etc.” In other words, if you don’t have something pure and God-honoring to say, then don’t say it (or post it) at all! If you choose to blog, text, Tweet, or post on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, your primary goal should be to edify your readers rather than to communicate shallow frivolity. Make it your goal to build up others’ faith in Jesus Christ and encourage them spiritually through what you are sharing, or to bless your friends and family members, brighten their day, and remind them of your love for them. If your online communications serve no eternal purpose, they become nothing more than time-wasters and distractions, not only in your own life, but in the lives of those you are conversing with.
One of the most dangerous things about Facebook, Pinterest, and personal blogs is the temptation to idolize the “following” that we gain through these mediums. Instead of looking to Christ alone for our confidence, security, and fulfillment, we become consumed with how many likes we have on our Facebook page, how many people follow our Pinterest boards, or how many subscribers we have on our personal blog. When our motive is to maintain or build up a personal following, it can be quite tempting to post idle chitchat merely for the sake of having something to say and getting people to listen to us. A great way to figure out whether the words you are posting, tweeting, blogging or texting have eternal value is to ask the questions, “Do these words truly point people to Jesus Christ and reflect His nature? Do they serve any higher purpose other than to fill space and sound interesting? Do they honor God, or do they esteem the shallow things of this world?” Remember, saying nothing at all is far better than filling the air or page with pointless, worthless, trivial, idle words.
If idle chatter has become an unhealthy pattern in your life, prayerfully consider taking a season completely away from all the outlets (blogs, social media, etc) that seem to pull you into that habit. Use that time instead for prayer and worship, practically serving someone in need, encouraging people in your daily life, or reaching out to someone who is lonely. The habit of meaningless chitchat might seem difficult to give up at first, but if you look to Christ, He will faithfully show you how to exchange idle chatter for godly edification!