You see it pretty much every day on the news, hear it on the radio, on social media. It seems our world has been filled in these day with a level of hatred and vitriol that seems unprecedented. Our last presidential election seemed to spike this division, and continues to divide us, almost like the “Sirens” of Greek mythology, it lures us into a fray that only brings out the worst in everyone who is a part of it. With the rise of the so-called “Fake News” comes a distrust of anything that we read, hear, or see. And the glut of such things on one hand makes me not want to contribute to the cacophony of voices screaming to be heard. Yet I feel compelled to bring some Biblical truth to these matters. For those who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, This is a testament that there is another way. To those who claim to follow Christ, This is a reminder of who we are to be. This is primarily written to believers in Christ.
The Scriptures have no lack of truth that we could, and likely need to consider on this issue, but allow me to just point out three for our meditation and application where needed.
It starts with my heart. This is a truth that was taught us by the Lord Jesus Himself. And it is here we need to tread carefully. In the heat of the issues before us, we must remember that none of us truly knows what lies at the depths of our own hearts. The prophet Jeremiah said, in Jeremiah 17: 9; The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? We are told in Hebrew 4: 12 -13; For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
In other words we need to bring the thoughts and intentions of our hearts before the mirror of the Word of God, enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God before we rush into judgment, or before we allow rash words to exit our mouths. Jesus taught much about the importance of the heart in regards to our speech and our actions (Matthew 15:18-19 for example). What is in my heart will produce what comes from my mouth. It is the overflow from our hearts (Matthew 12:34).
What are the attitudes we must cultivate in our hearts? Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:31, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. That way, he says in chapter 13 is the way of love. He actually begins chapter 13 addressing our speech. If we speak without love we are like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” In Philippians chapter 4, Paul addresses our attitudes in this way: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9). In Galatians 5:14-15 Paul again says For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! And in Colossians 3, Paul admonishes us with these words: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17). So how are you doing with those things?
Examining my speech. The principle is simple, what comes out reveals what’s inside. I have always liked the illustration of the toothpaste tube, and have written a blog page about that. But when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, what’s inside comes out. What comes out of you when you are squeezed? The apostle James speaks very bluntly to believers about this issue of the tongue ( our speech). James says that we all make “many mistakes” and that the control of the tongue ( and in our case what we spew out on social media) is a sign of maturity. But, he also says that the tongue can be like a flame of fire, a world of wickedness, corrupting our entire body, setting our whole life on fire. Out of our mouths come both blessings and cursings… cursing those made in the image of God! (James 3: 5-12).
Paul tells us in Ephesians not to allow “corrupt” speech proceed our of our mouths, but only that which is good for edifying, that it might give grace to them that hear (Ephesians 4:29). He tells the Colossians, Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one (Colossians 4:6).
To his disciple Titus, Paul writes; This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8). These passages and so many more give us the “litmus test” for our conversations, our writings, and our responses to those we may disagree with. Let us all (yes, I include myself in this) allow the Word of God to expose our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12). Then, after we have passed this test we may write, or speak those things that would pass this test.
Understand the conflict. Finally, at least for this blog entry, let us remember the nature of what is going on around us. This is not simply a battle of political viewpoints. Whether we, and they are aware of it, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. This is important for us as believers to understand because it should be this knowledge that drives how we pray, and how we conduct ourselves in these days. Words and viewpoints are thrown around in what sometimes seems as a firestorm of differing viewpoints. But we must understand that underlying all of this is a spiritual dimension. And this is so important for us to understand,, and allow us to form how we view this raging battle. What is happening in the unseen world is a raging spiritual battle for the hearts and lives of human beings for whom Jesus died, and whom He loves. Many years ago when I taught in a Bible School in Switzerland, I would mention the name of Adolf Hitler. Of course in Europe that name brings to the front many different issues than we in America would understand. But my point would be that as evil as this man was, he was still a man for whom Jesus died. That does not take away the wickedness of his atrocities, but it should be a lens through which we view everyone we encounter. There are no exceptions. And as long is there is breath in them, there is a hope for salvation.
Paul reminded the Ephesian church of this in Ephesians 6:12; For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.But Pauls’ reminder here is not an isolated statement, for he goes on to tell them and us that we must never forget to cloth ourselves for this battle with the armor that God has given to us. The belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of the Gospel of Peace, taking the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and carrying the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. This is what God has given to workplace, family, or us to be able to stand; and stand for Him in the midst of the battles that rage around us, whether they are political, social, workplace or family. The armor and these truths make no distinction. Again, back at the Bible School in Switzerland, when I came to this passage in Ephesians, I would ask the students, how many of them would be ok with heading out the door in the morning naked. I would get the usual laughs and giggles, but no one ever told me they would. It’s the same with us. We need to put on the armor of God every morning before we head out the door, maybe even before we have breakfast.
There is so much more that could be said on each of these issues and others as well, but suffice it to say, we need to take a step back, look at our hearts, let the Word of God be the judge of our speech, and remember that this is a spiritual battle that we are in all the while we are on this earth. Can I ask you to take some time in the next couple days and allow the Lord to speak to you about these areas of your life. Confess what He shows you is displeasing to Him, and give yourself to be an honorable ambassador for Him where ever you may be.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)