Two events recently combined to spark this post. A fellow author, Joe Bentz, wrote a thoughtful article about the effectiveness of engaging in Facebook discussions that often have a hostile, demeaning tone (here’s the link http://josephbentz.com/blog/news/stupid-quarrels-or-principled-stands/. At the same time, another Facebook friend cautioned her friends that if they “badmouthed” those politicians she favored, she would unfriend them. When asked to clarify bad mouthing, she strongly bad mouthed the other side. Yes, she claims Jesus as Savior and Lord, but missed seeing her double standard.
The multitude of insults to those on the “other” side have grown, prompting many to leave Facebook. But perhaps the problem doesn’t lie with Facebook, but our own disobedience. You see, disagreeing doesn’t cause problems, but how we do it does. I have Christian friends on Facebook, spiritually curious friends, agnostic and atheistic friends. We never agree fully, but have good discussions, on Facebook timeline, on PMs, on FB groups, or on Unconventional. It can be done, although it often is not.
You see, our words reflect reality. Luke 6:45 scares me, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45, NLT). Our words reveal our heart. Good or evil. The next question—how should our words express God’s goodness to our opponents and enemies?
“Love your enemies! Do good to them…Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:35-36, NLT). Can our enemies see love in our words when we badmouth them? If we insult them or their character, do we act as children of God? Do we demonstrate godly compassion?
Now, let’s get more specific on godly language, “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. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live” (Ephesians 4:29-30). The way we live includes the words we speak. Do we abuse people with our words, or help them? Do our words encourage or alienate them? Do our words bring joy or sorrow to the Spirit?
Sometimes, we allow our partisan beliefs become more important than our unity as fellow followers of Jesus. Maybe it’s time we all let our words express love and encouragement and unity, rather than separating us. Aren’t we all God’s children? Let act like a healthy family. For God’s sake.
Kick Starting the Application
Examine the tone of your language toward those you disagree with. Would they sense love or scorn? Despite disagreement, would your words unite or alienate? Would God smile at some of your words? In this next week, can you make God smile at least once each day?