I've been wrestling with several thoughts, the last few days, how to share them, and in the end, must speak from my heart.
I knew when I wrote "The Passionate Church" that being the author would hold me to a new standard. I cannot write a book about offense and the power of God without living by its principles, and truly, this book changed me. I am as guilty of "taking offense," as anyone else. Now, a year later, I see even more strongly HOW NOT to take offense and, sadly, also how far the church still stands from that ideal.
Saying it bluntly, we've taken it on ourselves to judge everyone, what someone wears, how they spend their private time, and worse, what anyone called into the ministry says and does. We are so sure we know better than they do.
A minister said it this way, "Social media has become and excuse to lose our manners." I agree. I grew up in the South where "please" and "thank you" were expected, even amongst your family. Where "yes, ma'am," and "no, sir," being left unsaid earned you a smack on the wrist. I know in other parts of the country, that is unheard of, but God has something forceful to say about politeness and, even greater, humbleness.
Being humble, assuming you don't know everything about someone else's motive, will keep you silent. If that person, saved or unsaved, or that government official, good or evil, or that minister, evangelist, or prophet, inadvertently stepped on your toes, (1) say to yourself, "I don't know everything," and (2) keep your opinion to yourself. Then (3) PRAY FOR THEM. Prayer changes you and prayer changes them.
I'll go even further and say, DON'T LEAVE NEGATIVE REVIEWS - of books (Christian or secular), of YouTube videos (don't thumbs-down), of sermons, or even of ungodly propaganda. Don't comment if all you have to say is directed at pulling down someone else. Any deliberate choice to slander someone is an opportunity for strife, and strife is the source of every evil work. (Jas 3:16) Your comment will push someone who needs Christ further away from Him and someone who has Christ into anger and downward emotions.
When we are told to RESIST THE DEVIL, we like to picture ourselves on the defense, fighting back against him. We rarely ask ourselves what that battle is over, and if you study the Greek word translated RESIST, 9 times out of 10, it is talking about SPEECH. It is WHAT WE SAY that we are to RESIST (also known as self-control). (Gal 5:23; 1Co 13:5)
If you have no other motive to bite your tongue, consider Jesus who endured the mocking of the people and said nothing, who was questioned by Pilate and said nothing, who hung on the cross and had two thieves argue over Him but only remarked that one would be with Him in Paradise that day. His only word wasn't against them or accusatory, it was forgiveness, and here is our calling. (See Heb 3:1)
He is the Judge not us. (See Jas 4:11) So, next time the temptation (opportunity to sin) overcomes you, and you're going to put that prophet, minister, church goer, cashier, social media commenter, in their place - DON'T. Take a deep breath, say a word of prayer for them (and yourself), and move on. RESIST the urge to take sides with the devil, and choose love, even if the most you can do right then is sit silent.
God's love expressed through you will always be stronger than hate. The most powerful man is a peaceful one. Choose to be that man.
Image by Christopher Ross from Pixabay
Suzanne D. Williams, Author