In the wee hours of Wednesday morning as the Senate Impeachment trial of President Trump was concluding its first day, news media outlets reported a “contentious exchange on the Senate floor.”
CNN called it an “extraordinary moment” and “acrimonious” when the “advocates for both sides” failed “to maintain decorum during a highly partisan affair.”
At this point Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, who’s presiding, stepped in to offer this reproof
“I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is that its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”
Roberts further added, “I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”
While Roberts was referring to the august body and hallowed chamber where the United States Senate was meeting, his counsel is pretty good advice for all of us.
Remember Where You Are
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes warned: “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” Then he reminds us: “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
Where are you?
You and I are in the presence of God. Always. 24/7.
The Psalmist rhetorically raised the questions: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Ps 139:7)
The answer, of course, is that there’s nowhere in heaven, on earth, on the sea, day or night where God is not present.
So, as we speak and behave it’s all in full display of the Almighty.
Remember Who Are You
Robert’s rebuke, “remember where you are” also implied to “remember who you are.” You’re an elected United States Representative, Senator, or emissary of the President. So conduct yourself decently with dignity and decorum.
Likewise, disciples of Christ need to remember “who you are.” Christian. I recall hearing my friend Dee Bowman relate the advice he gave to his son Russ as a teenager when he would leave the house and go out with his friends: “Remember who you are.”
The worthy name that we wear should motivate us to give serious heed to Paul’s exhortation: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).
Remember How You Ought To Speak
Let these Biblical exhortations regarding our speech sink into your minds and hearts.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Col. 4:6)
“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)
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (Jas. 1:26)
Today, our public discourse has become uncivil, uncouth, and unseemly. Vitriolic speech that is crusty, crass, and crude seems to be the order of the day. It’s heard on TV shows. Movies. Newscasts. And political rallies. Words are allowed to be broadcast that just a few years ago would be bleeped. In addition, the discourse between political rivals is often insulting, demeaning and at the very least disrespectful.
It’s imperative that in this era of maligning others with derogatory and disparaging names, that Christians rise above the fray. This applies in our homes between husbands and wives. Parents and children. In our social interactions. In our professions. In church business meetings. On the basketball court and ball field. And on facebook, twitter, text messages and all social media.
Finally, remember the sober warning of King Jesus: “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.” (Matt, 12:36-37).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman