Social media gives Mr. and Mrs. Everyday Citizen something they’ve never had before: A megaphone.

That’s me! Mr. Everyday! If you are reading this, that’s probably you, as well.

Now, more than any other time in history, there is a level playing field for the exchange of ideas. The rich and powerful no longer hold a monopoly on communications and publishing. Anyone can go viral at any time. Hundreds … thousands … hundreds of thousands could be influenced by our words.

But it seems to me that some people have missed part of the new reality — that with power comes responsibility. We are accountable for what we say and post.

Don’t take my word for it. Read Matthew 12:36-37:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Seems pretty straightforward. And believe me, some of the posts I’ve read are the very definition of “empty words.” So here are five rules straight from Proverbs for guarding your tongue … and keyboard.

I. Know Your Audience

Learn how to tell when your input will be appreciated. Arguing with the wrong person can do more harm than good.

“Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” – Proverbs 23:9

“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.” – Proverbs 16:13

Other verses: Proverbs 14:3, 14:7, 17:10, 20:19.

II. Be Soft and Gentle

Loud and arrogant does not equal correct. Remember, Elijah heard God’s voice in the whisper.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24

Other verses: Proverbs 25:15, 29:11

III. Be Measured and Thoughtful

Think about your words before you send them out to the world — and that means thinking about more than just how to make your point.

“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” – Proverbs 29:20

“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” – Proverbs 15:28

Other verses: Proverbs 17:27, 12:23, 11:12

IV. Be Knowledgeable

Proverbs is clear that wise words share knowledge. Which begs the question, do we really know what we are talking about when we post, or are we just sharing what someone else said because we want it to be true?

“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” – Proverbs 15:2

“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” – Proverbs 20:15

Other verses: Proverbs 15:7, 16:23

V. Be Truthful

This is the most obvious rule, but it is sometimes the toughest because learning the real truth takes knowledge and understanding, measured thought, and a gentle spirit willing to hear.

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” – Proverbs 12:19

Other verses: Proverbs 12:22, 26:28