I’m running as fast as possible, but I can’t seem to catch up in the world of internet technology that every five-year-old kid seems to be able to understand and use with no effort.

Take social media, for example. I’ve struggled to become comfortable with Facebook. I currently have 336 “friends” and check my timeline several times a day. I hardly ever post anything, but I frequently comment on the posts of others.

As for other social media options, I’m confused and intimidated. I don’t have a clue about WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest or Tumbir; they all sound like the names of diseases to me. Even Twitter threatens me.

So I return to Facebook, where I feel some degree of comfort. Then, early this week, my comments on several other people’s posts seemed to have negative effects. In one twenty-four hour period I managed to offend five different individuals, ranging from a second cousin I’ve never met to a member of ABC. In one instance I had misunderstood the original post, in another I had assumed motives unfairly and in still another my comment had a sarcastic edge. At first I thought I just must have been having a bad day. But then I realized that the potential for hurt is always there when I express myself to another person, and the Lord seemed to be using this cluster of negative interactions to teach me to be more sensitive every time I communicate with another person in any way.

The verse of Scripture God brought to my mind was:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

I need to use this as a guideline for how I respond to posts and comments. If my mind is focused on things that are honorable, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise, then I’ll be more inclined to read those values into the words others post and to respond in a way that’s more positive and encouraging.

As I read the context of this verse in Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi, I realized he was giving this advice in response to a real-life communication conflict between two influential women in that congregation:

“I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers . . .” (verse 2-3)

Euodia and Syntyche had been unified by the gospel of Jesus, but their relationship had became strained, probably because of some unkind words spoken by one or both of them. Maybe if they had Facebook they would have gotten along better; more likely, it would have made things worse. Paul’s advice in that day would apply just as well in our high-tech world: “Here’s a list of good qualities and values; as you deal with one another, think about these things.”

Thinking good thoughts comes before speaking good words.

(Wait a minute, did he really tweet that? I’ll show him!)  Stop. Think about these things.

— Pastor George Van Alstine