Since crossing the border into Canada 10 days ago, I haven’t been watching much news. But I noticed an article on my Yahoo news feed this morning bemoaning (again) a lack of civility that continues to plague our country.
I gather there is a war of words regarding Sarah Sanders being asked to leave a restaurant called the Red Hen. A provocative speech by Rep. Maxine Waters. Some cryptic comments by Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi being heckled as she bought tickets to see a showing of Mister Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor. And the President tweeting about something needing a paint job and someone with a low I.Q. That’s about it. Eh?
So, as a result, everyone is weighing in on social media and all kinds of vitriolic language is being hurled by one side against another. It seems that everyone feels obligated to make a statement or extend a gesture regarding their political and social views on almost every topic. ThePreachersWord has largely refrained from engaging in such debate except to weigh in on some spiritual and moral issues. Neither have we personally tweeted or posted on facebook our opinions.
Of course, we have opinions. As the old adage goes, “Opinions are like noses. Everybody has one.” Of course, someone may retort, “In your case have you considered plastic surgery?”
However, there is sometimes a virtue in silence. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.” Then he added, “Avoid trifling Conversation.” May we add to that to avoid bombastic outbursts. Avoid vulgar insults. Avoid crude and crass speech.
It’s bad enough when have to hear it from our politicians, political pundits, star athletes and talk show hosts, but unfortunately, sometimes it is observed among Christians. Especially on social media.
Coarse language, insulting retorts, abrasive attitudes have no place among the people of God. As we model the character of Christ, we ought to exemplify civility, common courtesy, and good manners.
The Bible is plain regarding the impropriety of rude and crude talk among God’s people.
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out-of-place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Eph. 5:4)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Eph 4:31).
In contrast, 1 Corinthians reminds us that “love is kind.” And “love has good manners.” It is not rude or crude. Love issues itself in speech that is ennobling, uplifting and edifying.
The wise man reminds us of the value of a good word spoken to others, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov 16:24)
He further advises, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Prov.. 21:23).
He opines that “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Prov 17:28).
Indeed “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1).
In a time of fierce partisan divide, let us as God’s set apart people rise above the fray. In our tweets. Our facebook posts. And our individual conversations.
May we constantly engage in gracious speech, “seasoned with salt” to kindly, considerately and with civility respond to others. Even with those whom we may seriously disagree.
The prayer of the Psalmist might benefit us all. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps.141:3).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman