The other day I was talking with a friend about a different church and expressing my opinion about some of the things they practice. Nothing terribly mean-spirited, but I was pointing out some differences and my perspective about them. Somewhere along the way, I was struck with the thought….”would I be comfortable saying this if their leaders were here? or in front of their congregation? Would they feel honored by my tone and attitude? why am I really saying this?”
It immediately reminded me of this. The best Jimmy Fallon segment ever.
(my favorite is the last guy….”listen, about that…right…here’s what happened…..” so funny)
It was pretty convicting. Later in the day I prayed about it, and God spoke to me. He said, “Jon, sometimes when you talk about your brothers & sisters, you act like a COWARD or a PUNK.”
Ok, He didn’t say that to me audibly, but that was my general impression 🙂
Sometimes, we have a legitimate grievance of some sort that needs to be dealt with in a biblical manner. But instead we just gossip about it….like a COWARD.
Yes, there are real differences and concerns among Christians. Families have problems. They have disagreements. No surprise there. Luckily, the Lord has given us PLENTY of instruction about how to deal with it. If it involves sin (Matthew 18) or relational issues (Matthew 5). If it is a disagreement about preferences (Romans 14) or a debate about truth & practices (Galatians 2). There are principles for us to follow….speaking to one another directly and in love (Ephesians 4). Doing all things in humility. (Philippians 2) Letting our words be edifying and building up. (Ephesians 4:29) Taking the log out of own eye. (Matthew 7) You get the idea.
Speaking in a dishonoring way is often just us saying….
“I’m too lazy to address this God’s way. I’ll just whine to this other person instead.“
Of course, other times, (more often?) we are just talking negatively about someone/or a group, and there is no real grievance or sin at all. Maybe we want to impress people & convince others of our “rightness”. Or show how we are doing things better or “more biblically” (the Christian trump phrase). Or we’re jealous. Or insecure. Or we want to advance our ministry in some way. (This applies to what we declare from the rooftops of the internet by the way)
Now people might not be able to detect it. We can be masters at disguising our motives. Maybe we resist being blatantly negative & just cast vague aspersions to sound ‘concerned’. But the damage is still done. And essentially, we’re just being a PUNK.
Granted, PUNK may not be the most precise word to describe what’s happening here, but for some reason in my mind, it just captures the heart of it.
We feel a need to build ourselves up. We are lacking something and feel that tearing others down or subtly critiquing them will fill that void. Of course, it never does.
Last post I mentioned this verse:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. — Romans 12:10 ESV
Showing honor is ACTIVE not passive. It does not happen by accident.
But as I have been looking at my own life I have realized that before we even try to discover how to be a person who shows honor, first we need to STOP being people showing dishonor.
STEP 1 : STOP DISHONORING PEOPLE
Super profound I know. But sometimes I wonder if we would all be well-served by wrestling with some basic questions….Would this person or group I am talking about feel honored by the way I am speaking? Do brothers and sisters I disagree with still feel that I honor them?
Check out this verse in the Gospel of Matthew.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37 ESV
EVERY CARELESS WORD. OUCH.
And this isn’t gonna be easy. This is not just an exhortation to “be nice”.
Where do these ‘careless words’ come from?
A heart that has its focus on something other than bringing glory to God.
See, as soon as you ask God to put to death this sort of negative behavior you will soon find that the issue goes far deeper than you imagined…
One thing I have started to do in my life is whenever I find myself tempted to be dishonoring in speech or attitude, to stop, repent, and ask, “What is going on in my heart right now?”
And then be faithful to take it to God and wrestle with it.
The result is that NOT ONLY will God protect us from the awkward “Robinson Cano” moments of life, but he will deepen our understanding of the Gospel along the way!
He will show us how truly broken we are….and also that there is STILL mercy and grace for us, even when we act like cowards & punks.
More about that in the next few posts…