Taming the Fingers is written by Jeff Johnson and published by Reformation Heritage Books. Jeff is a pastor at Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Michigan, and he is a graduate and faculty member of Reformed Baptist Seminary.
What Proverbs Teaches about Our Use of Social Media
The purpose of this book is "to apply what the book of Proverbs teaches about communication to our use of social media." (xii) The author cites James 3:13–18 to contrast heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. The goal is to look at the deposit of heavenly wisdom found in the truisms in the book of Proverbs and apply it to today's Christian's use of social media.
Five Questions Christians Should Ask before Using Social Media
The author organizes this 70 page book into five chapters. Each chapter poses a question Christians should ask in self-examination before using social media.
1. Am I Controlled?
Amos 5:13 and Galatians 5:22 speak that Christians are to practice self-control. Self-control involves self-restraint. Johnson summarizes what Proverbs teaches regarding the restraint of one's words since what we write on social media reflects our spoken word. (Prov 4:23, 25–27; 10:19; 16:32; 17:27; 25:28; 29:11)
Restraint and self-control of our use of words will allow us to be able to discern and speak/write in the proper time. The proper timing with our words will increase its effectiveness and probability to be well-received.
2. Am I Calm?
Often, our written responses in social media can be fueled by strong emotions including sinful anger. Harsh words rarely produce good results. Calm, soothing words are more likely to be sway and persuade.
3. Am I Careful?
The author warns the reader to make sure that he/she is careful to tend to his/her clear responsibilities. This may include cultivate his marriage, the parenting of his children, the management of his household, service and care for people at his local church, and nurturing of his own spiritual soul.
In addition, care must be taken to insure we are caring for the universal church as we relate to others on social media and not tear down the "family of God."
4. Am I Compassionate?
Two components of compassion are cited in this chapter. The first is Christ's compassion leads to action to mitigation and relief of suffering. Compassion is action-oriented and practical. Therefore, we are not expected to verbalize compassion to every single problem problem in the world on social media.
Second, compassion is private. Just as our prayers are often lifted in private, our gestures of compassion should be private and not incessantly broadcasted to the world on social media.
5. Am I Conscientious?
The ninth commandmant demands that Christians are to be truth-tellers. Therefore, we are to make every effort to make sure that we know the truth before we express our thoughts and opinions on social media. Often, there are two sides of a story, and even if our intentions may seem pure, we are wholly responsible to insure we have all the facts correct before spreading news and opinion on social media.
3. Commentary on Taming the Finger
This book is concise and does not overstate its welcome. It reads like a seasoned pastor coming alongside the reader to open up Bible passages (primarily from the book of Proverbs) to impart heavenly wisdom and suggested application to our use of social media.
I think that Christians who spend a significant amount of time posting content to social media for the purpose of persuading others or self-aggrandizement will find this book encouraging and helpful.
However, there are other reasons Christians may have in using social media. Some us social media as a source of entertainment and amusement. Other look to social media as a tool to retrieve information or understanding of current society and culture. And still others use social media to connect and strengthen already established friendships and relationships. This book does not have as much to say about some of these other uses of social media.
4. Final Thoughts
Taming the Fingers is a short, readable book that provides helpful wisdom and suggestions on how Christians can think through their use of social media. The author writes, "If the five question I have presented cause pause and prayerful reflection, then my mission has been accomplished." (63) I believe Jeff Johnson has succeeded in accomplishing these goals.
Taming the Fingers — Heavenly Wisdom for Social Media
Written by Jeff Johnson | Reformation Heritage Books (2023)