While working outside a few days ago, an older praise song came on Pandora, and one line echoed in my mind, a line based on the verse, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD” (Psalm 19:14). Then, during lunch we caught up on the news, with the riot in Charlottesville topping the list. Hateful and vile speech and actions abounded.
I wonder if God orchestrated that juxtaposition. Let’s not get into political positions here, but focus on how followers of Jesus should disagree with each other and the “other side.” This question that haunted me, and still does: do I make God smile with what I say and think? I’m not sure he’s pleased when he hears our venom and hatred and foul language toward others he created.
So, out of my own self-examination and failings and struggles, here come some principles we can meditate on to increase God’s smile time.
1. Realize God loves all people. Including those of different colors and cultures and beliefs. This doesn’t mean we should agree, nor that we should let wrong slide. But foundationally, let’s operate by realizing how much God values them. What does it mean to love? Simply, to act in a manner that will benefit the other. Love is not an emotion but an action. Remember, God so loved the world that he gave his son. We love when we act to bless them.
2. Realize we need to love all people, including our enemies, according to Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). If we don’t love our enemies, what does that imply about our relationship with God? This scares me.
3. Treat all as you’d like to be treated. Typically, with respect, sincerity, and a willingness to hear our side. This principle just might remind you of something Jesus said. Ephesians 4:29 gives us a clue, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Do our words encourage or inflame the situation?
4. Watch out for thoughts that you allow yourself to camp on or return to. Those thoughts will drive our lives, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:7-9). When you watch the news or get into political discussions, does peace flood your soul?
We don’t have to agree, but followers of Jesus must disagree agreeably and in love.
Kick Starting the Application
What situations do you face that make it most difficult to make God smile at your words and thoughts? Why is it hard to do? Do you see a need to change? Should you? What specifically can you do to bring a smile to God’s face? Do you need to avoid some situations?