The second essential component of Christian blogging that I would like to examine is our responsibility to write excellently. Again, let me draw our attention back to the first essay: we are attempting to outline basic Biblical principles that will positively distinguish us as Christians within the web-writing community for the glory of our King. One way to negatively distinguish ourselves and discourage people from reading our material is to write poorly.
I am certainly not implying that we are to be Tolkiens and Miltons, but I am saying that we should always seek to write well and be constantly growing in our ability to communicate in writing. Disorganized, thinly supported, illogical writing peppered with spelling mistakes, punctuation oversights and poor word choices can greatly hinder the impact of our writing. It can also demonstrate that we do not consider the content of our writing to be worth the time it takes to write it well.
Wisdom from Solomon
Solomon, reflecting in the third person at the end of Ecclesiastes, commented that, “Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10). Let’s examine these things more closely as they pertain to our writing:
He taught the people knowledge and uprightly wrote words of truth
What people most desperately need is a genuine knowledge of God as provided in His Word. It is His truth that saves, sanctifies, equips, guides, directs, instructs and provides wisdom for fruitful living. From God’s truth we learn of Christ, salvation, eternal realities, how to be right with God and how to live for His glory. It is important to understand that when we speak of knowledge in the Biblical sense, we are not talking about mere data. We are speaking of knowledge that is useful, helpful, truthful, and relevant. Such aspects should characterize our writing.
Consider Solomon’s own wisdom regarding the content of our writing: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11), “On the lips of him who has understanding wisdom is found” (10:13), “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (12:26), “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away form the snares of death” (13:14), “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of fools pour out folly” (15:2), “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasivness to his lips” (16:23).
Centuries later Paul warned his young apprentice, Timothy, to stay away from fruitless discussions and controversies (I Timothy 1:4-5; 6:3-5; 6:20; II Timothy 2:14-16) and instead, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (I Timothy 2:15). The opposite of foolish controversy and useless knowledge is a right handling and an accurate promulgation of the truth. Our burden should be to properly, accuarately and passionately provide our readers with good knowledge; namely, knowledge of the truth.
He weighed, studied and arranged with great care
Commenting on this portion of the verse, Matthew Poole observes that Solomon “…did not rashly and foolishly utter whatsoever came into his mind or mouth, but seriously pondered both his matter and words” (Commentary on Psalms-Malachi, Mathew Poole, 307). O how this must become the pattern in our writing! It is so easy to fire off a few thoughts and post them without much consideration. Let’s take Solomon’s example and think over our writing and take great care in what and how we write.
I might add that this is also an exhortation to know what we are talking about before we write. The warning in Proverbs 18:13 is pertinent, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” To form opinions and thoughts without fully knowing the situation often leads to making wrong judgments, not to mention it makes us look foolish. In an interview hosted by Adrian Warnock, Justin Taylor points out that a good principle to abide by is that one is not entitled to critique until he has demonstrated understanding. This is a good and wise rule. This practice, however, requires thought, study, patience and time.
He sought words of delight
Choosing the right word is difficult, but it makes all the difference in the world. Writers must consider themselves craftsmen; a wordsmith, specifically, whose specialty is knowing exactly what word to place where and in what order.
This ability is greatly enhanced not only by practice in writing, but also by reading. If we would be good writers, we must give ourselves to reading. And when you read, notice how people write. Notice their sentence structures, learn the words they use but you do not know, and consider how they illustrate their points. This will be of great help in our writing and in our efforts to choose the right word. Solomon himself observed that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
As I commented in the first entry of this series, the seriousness, and in this case, the excellence of writing can easily vanish as publishing becomes so easy. Let it not be so among Christian writers! Let us follow the example of Solomon and write well; taking care to form good sentences, arrange them in logical order and select the right words. May we write excellently.