We are all essentially anonymous on this board, and only reveal more of ourselves to those we want to befriend, and to whom we wish to know more about us. Few are willing to even share a photo of themselves on their profile page. Yet, we actually reveal ourselves graphically to everyone here, in a way we don't often think about: in the manner and tone of our posts. We actually paint a "portrait" of ourselves that others can see--with the words we use, and the spirit that is conveyed by them. Jesus said that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. In our age of technology, I think we can rightly append to that wise observation: the words that we type into our posts also represent what is in our heart. These are the "oils" we use in painting our self-portrait.
Of course, unlike a portrait, it's not a physical image that is revealed by our words, but rather the likeness of our personality and demeanor--which are a fairly good representation of one's character and spiritual maturity. Like a portrait, it is a likeness of us--only how we look on the inside, rather than the outside. In a very real sense, we are represented by our words just as surely as we are by a photograph or a portrait. And, as life ultimately teaches us, what is on the inside is far more important than what's on the outside. After all, what's in the heart is who we really are, and how we are assessed--both by our Lord, and pretty much anyone whose opinion really matters.
What a beautiful self-portrait a poster creates when he or she is consistently polite, respectful of the views of others, and demonstrates the love of Jesus first and foremost in their dialogue--always conscious that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we should conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to our heavenly Father. These are the portraits of members we would like a visitor to see. How great it would be to know that visitors who stop by are thinking, "That Bibleforums board is a great Christian community! The people there really seem to love one another, and demonstrate the true meaning of Christianity in their words and attitude. That's what I'm looking for. That's what I need in my life."
Unfortunately....there are some here whose posts consistently exhibit sarcasm, intolerance, and negative, emotional responses to the other person who is "just not getting it." We see very unflattering portraits of these posters, as well as of those who insist on lording their great knowledge over others--condescending to the level of us mere mortals in their attempts to "show us the way." Then they become angry and resentful when someone points out that there are other viewpoints just as valid as theirs, or that a nasty spirit does not inspire confidence in the divine inspiration of their doctrine.
What about one-time visitors who drop in, and see insults and disrespect? They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression--and that certainly would not make a very good one. We can all agree to disagree, and even debate "fervently," without allowing negative emotions to creep into our words, turning a simple discussion into a heated argument with nasty, snide remarks that serve no useful purpose. That's when we let the flesh overcome the Spirit--and nothing good can ever come from that.
What good is it to profess ourselves Christians, if we consistently demonstrate characteristics that belie that profession? Do we not do a disservice to our Lord when those who do not know Him judge Him and our faith by our bad examples? Most people naturally assess Christianity by the Christians they know or come into contact with. If they get a bad impression from our poor representation, we are lousy stewards. As Jesus taught, A tree is judged by the quality of its fruit. We should always strive to paint a quality portrait of ourselves with our words--not only here, but everywhere we are, and at all times. Because, in the final analysis, the portraits we paint of ourselves with our words not only represent who we are spiritually, but also our reverence for the Lord--and for many, the very legitimacy of our faith. No artist would ever want to paint an unflattering self-portrait, and neither should we. Besides....we all certainly want the very best image of ourselves hanging in our heavenly Father's gallery!