Reflection: Sunday 8th August and for the week ahead:
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4.30-32)
In the past I only associated the word troll with Scandinavian folklore: dwarves living in caves. But it has come to have a sinister and threatening meaning, referring to people who make deliberately offensive or provocative online posts with the express aim of upsetting someone. Slander, bitterness, malice, wrath... St Paul, sees them all around him in his own society, and his answer is not just to refrain from spreading malice and slander, but instead to go out of our way to encourage each other and build each other up.
We may not be able to silence the trolls, but being ‘kind and tender hearted’ is something we can all, aspire to. In this we are called to imitate God, who sees our imperfections and shortcomings, but still loves and accepts us.