Tossed by the Waves: Responding to Social Media Crises

moving-waves-1421508-mIt is no exaggeration to say that social media presents us with a new crisis every single day. We are constantly bombarded with information seemingly designed to provoke our outrage, fear, sympathy, or some other intense (and seemingly unmanageable) emotion.

I made a partial list (in no particular order) of the social media crises that I’ve seen trending in just the past six weeks:

  • The hosts of The View made some disparaging comments about nurses, resulting in a major backlash and an eventual apology from Joy Behar.
  • A dentist from Minnesota shot a lion named Cecil, causing Jimmy Kimmel to cry and Tweeters around the world to threaten the lion-hunter with torture or death.
  • A major Syrian refugee crisis became a prominent news story, as millions of people fled their homes to escape war and religious persecution.
  • A young Muslim boy named Ahmed brought a homemade clock to school. It was mistaken for a bomb and he was briefly arrested and detained before being cleared. He inspired a new hashtag and received an invitation to The White House.
  • The Center for Medical Progress released several more videos exposing the practices of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business.
  • Former tennis star James Blake was unexpectedly tackled by a police officer in a case of mistaken identity.
  • Donald Trump insulted Carly Fiorina’s face and then said she actually has a beautiful face, and she made an effort to put him in his place at the Republican primary debate.

Like I said, that’s only a partial list. I compiled it in about 15 seconds off the top of my head – if I’d spent any more time on it I’m sure I could have found more.

All of these events were passed around on social media like crazy. They spread like wildfire and sparked passionate debate. I’m guessing that people lost friends over these issues.

What’s troubling, of course, is that while all of them inspired similar levels of outrage, they are not all of equal significance. To use an easy example, surely the death of one lion is not really as important as the displacement and death of millions of Syrian people.

And therein lies the rub when it comes to digital outrage. How do we even discern in the heat of the moment what’s worth passing along and what’s worth letting go? How do we know if the articles we’re reading are even true? What’s more, is it healthy to go through life with the constant burden of a thousand disparate crises, most of which we cannot really fix?

I cannot help but think of Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians: “Let us no longer be like children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” The world is guided by all kinds of false doctrines, beliefs and values that often oppose the truth of God’s Word.

So how do we avoid being tossed back and forth by the waves? Let me offer a few thoughts:

1. Ground yourself in God’s Word.

We’re susceptible to being tossed by the wind when we fail to root ourselves in the values of God. And the values of God are best expressed in the Word of God. Do you read the Scripture? Do you know it well? When you wake up in the morning, do you open God’s Word before you open Facebook? If not, you will react to the events of the day with fear or hostility or falsehood rather than through the lens of God’s truth.

What’s more, taking time to know God’s Word will help us prioritize the issues of our day. As I said above, some matter more than others. They matter more to us and they matter more to God. The only way to know what matters more, from a Christian perspective, is to submit to the values of God’s Word.

2. Only share what is true. 

Before you pass along an article about a current event, take just a few moments to make sure it’s true. Ed Stetzer wrote an excellent article recently on the embarrassment of Christians sharing fake news on social media. Consider the source of the article you’re sharing. Use common sense and ask if the story passes the “smell test.” Check the date on the post – is this a recent article or a recycled one from years past? Look at websites dedicated to fact-checking and at least consider what they’re saying. God is truth, so make every effort to represent His character in this regard.

3. Avoid responding immediately to every crisis.

We don’t have to panic at the slightest hint of trouble. Before you write a post or share an article, take a few deep breaths. Spend a few moments in prayer. Ask yourself, “In the grand scheme of eternity, is this issue worth responding to? Is this an issue of gospel significance or a matter of life and death? And if it is, is a Facebook post an effective way to begin addressing the issue? Sometimes social media can be beneficial to raise awareness or to motivate action; sometimes social media posts merely spread fear. We need wisdom to know the difference. The good news is that God gives wisdom away for free to people who ask for it (James 1:5)!

4. Unplug regularly. 

Find certain times in your day and in your week to disconnect. The universe will be alright if you and I take a day off from reading and weighing in on everything. Our friends will still be there tomorrow or the next day. Periodically unplugging allows us to see the value of the people and places right in front of us. Digital disconnection often facilitates reconnection with the people in our lives we can look at face-to-face. And we begin to see the world in perspective. Sometimes what seems like a crisis online isn’t a real crisis at all, at least not one we need to worry about.

We want to be the aroma of Christ in a fallen and sinful world. We want to care about those who are hurting and share the good news of Jesus with those who need to hear. But we also need to recognize our limitations: we can’t fix the world. And we are called to be men and women of truth and stability. It’s hard to do that in this day and age when we feel pressured to respond immediately to everything that happens in the world.

So let’s ground ourselves in God’s Word and reflect His character, through the power of His Spirit in us. Let’s reflect Him in “real life,” and let’s reflect Him online.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

Let Down the Nets

640px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Miraculous_Draught_of_Fishes_(La_pêche_miraculeuse)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

ReDiscovered Word

(Luke 5)

“At your word, I’ll let down the nets,” Peter said.

Having fished all night, having passed the optimal time of day for catching fish, having spent his entire life fishing, Peter knew that Jesus’ idea was a long shot.

On the other hand, he had just listened to the Teacher’s words. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The favorable day of the Lord is here.

What if His words were true? What if this man was God’s promised King? 

“Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But at your word, I will let down the nets.” Because it’s you, Jesus. Because you’re the one asking, I’ll take the chance.

Maybe you’ve been there.

“Master, I’ve worked on this marriage. For years. It’s changed nothing. But at your word, I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep praying.”

“Master, I’ve worked on this sin. For my whole life. I know this problem and I know it’s unsolvable. But at your word, I’ll keep fighting. I’ll pray again. I’ll try again.”

“Master, I’ve worked on my brother, my father, my friend, my co-worker. I’ve prayed for them. I’ve told them about You. It’s changed nothing. But at your word, I’ll try once more.”

Peter knew the odds were long. But maybe, just maybe, the odds were irrelevant here. He had heard the Teacher say it: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

So he put the nets out one more time. The catch came in so quickly that he couldn’t haul it shore. The nets began to break, and so did Peter’s self-assurance.

The fisherman who was so certain that the fish weren’t biting was suddenly overwhelmed at how wrong he had been. Only God could usher in such a catch. And that was a terrifying realization.

A sinful man in the presence of God, Peter begged Jesus to go away. But Jesus came here for people like Peter. For people like you and me.

“Do not be afraid,” He said. “From now on, you will catch men.” From now on, you know that nothing defeats the King. You know that the kingdom is at hand. You know that He is Immanuel, God with us. And He will do things so much greater than catching a few fish. People will find eternal life. The Spirit of God will come and live with His people.

Peter thought Jesus’ expectations were too grand. Jesus knew that Peter’s were too small.

When Jesus says to let down the net one more time, let it down. Your experience and objections and fears are no match for the power of God. One more throw and you just might find that He wants to do something bigger than you imagined.

Maybe, just this once, the odds are irrelevant. Maybe, just maybe, He is who He says He is.

You think His promises are too big? Maybe your view of Him is just too small. 

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Word Became Flesh

NativityReDiscovered Word 

(John 1)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

He was there when God spoke the universe into being, full of power and glory and light, full of everything we think about when we think about God.

The Word became flesh, a child born to an unwed mother, in a tiny town that was mostly known for being the childhood home of a great king from Israel’s past.

In heaven, the angels sang His praises. On earth, He was celebrated by a few shepherds, a rather undistinguished greeting team for the King of the Universe.

He became flesh and dwelt among us.

The perfect Son of God lowered Himself to live in the midst of angry, immoral, disobedient people like us. He became one of us, eating and drinking and sleeping. Like us and yet so deeply unlike us all at once.

The Light shone in the darkness, but the darkness could not comprehend it. He was like us and yet so unlike us that we simply could not understand who He was.

“He who has seen me has seen the Father,” He said. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus, the Word made flesh. He explained God and offered us the right to be God’s children.

The Incarnation of Christ is impossible to fully understand, and yet the Incarnation paves the way for us to understand enough about God to know Him.

As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God. To those who believed in His name. Here in the darkness, we cannot comprehend the blazing light of God’s glory.

But we can believe it.

Full of grace and truth, the Word of God, the eternal Son, came as a child, born to an unwed mother in a tiny town, all so we could know His Father. Truth to reveal who God is, and grace to forgive our sin and lack of understanding.

Grace upon grace.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We may not understand Him, but there is no Life without Him. 

Enter your email address to subscribe to new posts: 


 

Tags: , ,

Skeletons at the Family Reunion

skeletons_on_benchReDiscovered Word

(Matthew 1)

Every family has skeletons in the closet. They even lurk at your family reunions. Whether you know it or not, your genealogy includes the names of men and women who were conceived through inconceivable acts of darkness.

If you stare too long at your own family tree, if you go back far enough, you’re bound to find rape, incest, adultery, and fornication. The truth is ugly, but it is the truth nonetheless. There’s no such thing as genealogical purity. We may gradually forget the stories of our ancestors, but we never escape their legacy of sin, apart from the intervening grace of God.

No family is exempt from these tales of tragedy.

Consider for a moment the story of a young woman, made pregnant through incest, carrying the child of her own father-in-law. It’s an ugly story, the kind that we ignore or even try to purge from the pages of our family history. We don’t talk about stories like that at family reunions. Tales of our great-grandfather’s violence and lust don’t settle well with our barbecued brisket.

Or consider the story of another young woman, seduced — maybe even coerced — into adultery with a man twice her age, a man whose power and reputation in her community would have made refusal difficult to say the least. She finds herself pregnant, carrying a child conceived in shame. Determined to cover his tracks, her powerful and violent lover kills her first husband and the two of them marry. Violence and lust haunt their descendants for generations to come.

As you probably know by now, those are the stories of Tamar and Bathsheba, two of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Even the Son of God was not exempt from the dark family history we all share.

Stories like these are ones we would rather keep in the dark. And yet the Bible drags them into the light.

They’re the sort of stories that some people want to end before they begin, often by snuffing out the lives of the inconvenient children caught at the center of such drama. And yet God doesn’t end these stories. He uses them to write a better story.

God, in His wisdom and power, weaves even the worst parts of our family histories into the tapestry of His giant story of grace. He doesn’t hide our evil. He overcomes our evil with good.

Reading the names of those included in Jesus’ genealogy, one cannot help but feel that God’s Word is making a powerful point. The most shameful family background is no match for the strength of God’s grace.

No story is beyond redemption. No life is without value. No child is bereft of all hope.

Every family has its skeletons, but God specializes in raising the dead to life. Everyone’s story is littered with darkness, but our darkness will one day be swallowed up in His light.

He’s already written a new story for us, a story of grace and victory and life. It’s a story to tell the world.

It’s a story you can even talk about at the next family reunion.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

God’s Image and the Gospel

broken_mirrorEvery human life is made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). Every man, woman, child, and infant carries the potential to eternally reflect God’s glory. Our bodies, minds and spirits are created to shine His light.

For that reason, Christians have always believed that a person’s value is not determined by his or her size, intelligence, physical abilities, race, or gender. 

Each human being is stamped with a permanent price tag, one that simply reads, “Priceless. Made in God’s image.” That is why God defends the defenseless and calls His people to do the same. That is why, when infanticide was common and accepted throughout the Roman Empire, Christians were the ones who rescued and cared for those abandoned infants.

It is why Christians will never agree with the sentiments of men like Princeton University’s Peter Singer, when he says, “The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.”

To accept Singer’s logic is to deny the image of God and commit a terrible form of blasphemy. Our value is not defined by our capacities, but by our Creator.

The image of God informs how Christians view all of life. The image of God demands that we care about the weak and defenseless (Psalm 10:17-18; 82:3-4). The image of God means that we cannot passively accept a world in which people discuss the crushing of human babies as an acceptable and routine practice. The image of God means that we cannot passively accept a world in which racial and tribal divisions lead us into a dehumanizing suspicion of those who are different from us (Acts 17:26-29).

That said, the image of God is only part of the story we are called to tell.

While the image of God demands that we defend the defenseless, the gospel calls us to love and pray for God’s enemies. Because only the gospel provides a path by which God’s enemies can become His friends. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means that no human being, however cruel, however far from God, is beyond the reach of His grace. So rather than isolating ourselves from those who currently reject Christ, we step right into their midst and share the good news that nobody is beyond the hope of salvation. We share that true life is not found in the pleasures and power of this world, but only in the love and redemption of the One who came to save us.

Because God made each person in His image, He longs to undo the sin that has defaced and broken that image for all of us. He longs to repair everybody to their proper working order. And He gave Jesus to make that possible.

If we are to be consistent in our ethics of life, then, we cannot forget that the oppressed and the oppressor are both stamped with the same price tag. All are made in the same image and all carry the potential to know and reflect God.

In Christ, every person matters. In Christ, every enemy is a potential friend. 

Every single person is made in His image yet broken and rebellious because of sin. And the saving power provided by the gospel is the only power in heaven or on earth capable of raising the dead, saving the hopeless, and transforming enemies into friends.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

Tags: , , ,

The Only King We Need

king_crownReDiscovered Word

(1 Samuel 8, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles)

When will we stop waiting for the next king, the next leader, the next hero to save the world?

When will we learn that kings and rulers will never meet our expectations, or fulfill our deepest hopes? Earthly leaders can never do what only God can do.

Israel never learned that lesson. I wonder if we will.

Like you and me, Israel wanted a leader who would make their nation look good. They wanted a ruler to reflect their values: strength, power, and maybe a little morality thrown in for good measure.

“Give us a king,” they said. “We want to be strong and respected, like all the other nations.”

So God gave them what they asked. They rejected His leadership and made idols out of their kings. And Israel’s monarchy was a disaster, just as God warned them it would be.

Saul, their first king, was power-hungry and godless. His successor David worshipped God, but was violent and deceitful. David’s son Solomon was wise, but his unrestrained lust led the people into idolatry.

Rehoboam’s arrogance split the nation in half. And on and on the cycle went.

There were nineteen kings in northern Israel, and every one of them worshipped idols. There were twenty kings in the southern kingdom, and most of them worshipped idols as well. Even the “good” kings of Judah were often violent, usually arrogant, and sometimes idolatrous.

The root of Israel’s problem was that they did not trust God’s leadership. For nearly 400 years, the people followed their kings into all sorts of evil, until God judged the nation by sending them into exile.

When they returned to the land, after 70 long years, they still clung stubbornly to their hope that a human king would save them.

And all the while, God kept sending prophets to tell them the truth: Only one King could save them. But they never listened.

They kept looking to their leaders, expecting them to do what only God could do.

So God Himself came, clothed in human flesh, to save His people from their enemies and from their sin. Born in a manger, raised by a carpenter, with no palace of His own, He didn’t fit their model of a what a king should be. So they killed Him.

But this King was not like Saul or David or Solomon or any of the others. He would not stay in the grave. He rose again to lead His people to victory and life, to save them from sin and death and Satan, once and for all.

And yet the people kept waiting and hoping for somebody else. Rather than submit to the Savior, they kept looking for a better option.

Will God’s people ever learn that there is no better option? Will His people ever see that there is only one Savior?

The pattern of Israel’s idolatry continues in the hearts of God’s people today. We look to governments and kings to save us. We want them to free us from our national sins and lead us into righteousness. But they won’t. They can’t. Because there is only one Savior.

Are you disappointed in your government? Are you disillusioned by your leaders? Well, that’s not a bad starting point on the pathway to trusting God. Because once we free ourselves from the old and tenacious lie that kings will save us, we become free to trust the only King who can.

He’s a good King. He’s a powerful King. And He will save us. Don’t lose heart, and don’t place your hope in the kingdoms of the world.  

Instead, worship the One True King. Proclaim His glory to those who need to hear.

And wait for His salvation, because He’s coming back soon.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

Tags: , , ,

I Can Tell You of Hope

 

forest-sunrise-1425966-mNote: I posted this on my personal Facebook page earlier in the week and felt it was worth reposting on my blog.

Heavy week. Violence in Baltimore. Marriage debate before the Supreme Court. Natural disaster in Nepal.

All of it seems way above my pay grade, way beyond my capacity to fix or fully comprehend.

That’s why it matters today that God is present, even in the darkest corners of a broken world (Psalm 139).

That’s why it matters today that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that God’s own Beloved Son made a home among rebels like us (John 1:14). He came because He even loves people I don’t like or understand. He came because He even loves me.

That’s why it matters that the Son who is full of grace and truth humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-11).

That’s why it matters that the same Son rose from the grave three days later, vanquishing death, conquering sin, and offering life to all who trust Him (1 Cor 15).

That’s why it matters that His Spirit is here, right in the midst of suffering, right in the midst of pain, whispering to a broken world, “God loves you” (Rom 8).

That’s why it matters that Jesus is coming back, not only to join our world this time, but to fix it once for all. No more pain. No more tears. No more death or sin or violence or disaster. No more death (Rev 21:4).

I can no more fix the world than I can raise the dead, but I know Somebody who can do both. So what can I do? I can grieve. I can pray. I can try to understand. I can help others with the limited resources God has given me. I can look with hope toward the day of final redemption and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

And I can tell you about the hope found in Jesus, praying you’ll come to know it deeply, through the Spirit of the One who loves Baltimore, Nepal, and even Washington, D.C. He loves His world, and He loves you too.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

 

Tags: ,

Even the Wisest Person

1024px-Jugement_de_Salomon_3,_vitrail_roman,_Cathédrale_de_StrasbourgReDiscovered Word

(1 Kings 11, Proverbs 2)

Even the wisest person can become a fool.

Solomon’s wisdom was vast, but he forgot its Source. He amassed wisdom and wealth and honor, but at some point he started to turn away from the God who gave him it all to him.

His wisdom made him powerful, but his power made him arrogant. He collected wives and concubines and they led him far away from the Lord. Their idolatry crept into his heart and then into the entire nation of Israel.

Solomon’s divided heart eventually resulted in a divided kingdom. Years of war, years of loss, years of idolatry. The wisest man in history made a series of foolish choices, and his nation paid a terrible price.

Wisdom is not a permanent acquisition. It has to be cared for and cultivated or it will fade away. A wise young man might become a foolish old man if he doesn’t pay close attention to his heart.

You and I are always headed toward wisdom or headed toward foolishness. Our paths are largely determined by how well we remember the One who gives wisdom and how faithfully we listen to his Word.

Wisdom shouts in the street and lifts her voice in the square. Wisdom instructs the simple and enlightens the wise. But wisdom only does its work in those who will listen.

When Solomon stopped listening, his wisdom faded. The same can happen to you and me. Or we can pay attention to our hearts and heed the God of wisdom. He loves to give wisdom, and He gives it to young and old alike. But you have to listen.

Even the wisest person can become a fool. But even the foolish can become wise when they hear the voice of wisdom’s Maker.

If you haven’t done so, enter your email address to subscribe: 


 

Tags: , , , ,

The Tomb is Empty, Our Hope is Full

Garden TombThe tomb is empty.

Our hope is full.

The Resurrection and the Life died a criminal’s death, broken and defeated. He lay three days in a rich man’s grave.

The women, his friends, came to honor Him and to anoint His body. They came to remember the man they loved. But He was gone. In place of His dead body they found two angels, shining and bright and alive.

“Why do you seek the living among dead? He is not here. He is risen.”

The angel’s statement was shocking, but they knew it was true. They knew in their soul that Jesus could not die forever. As soon as they heard the news, they ran to tell the disciples.

He’s alive!

The tomb is empty.

Our hope is full.

The disciples could not believe it at first, but once they did, everything changed. They ran to tell their friends, to tell their enemies, to tell the world. The word spread among the Jews, the Greeks, and the pagans. Death was defeated and life had come.

For years to come, for hundreds and thousands of years to come, death would stalk God’s people. But death would never have the sting it used to.

When Jesus broke out of that tomb, death itself was broken. It wasn’t only the stone He rolled away. He also rolled away the hopelessness of those who dwell in the shadow of death, yet who long for eternal life.

When we shout, “He is risen,” we also shout our own resurrection.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” he said. “He who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Because He rose, we will rise. Death cannot claim forever those whose hearts are attached to His.

Jesus destroyed our great enemy when He burst out of the tomb early one Sunday morning. And now the one who believes will live to see the day when death is forever undone, and those who sleep in their graves will emerge into the shining light of the Author of life.

The tomb is empty.

Our hope is full.

Death is defeated.

Life is victorious.

Jesus is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Tags: , ,

Five Questions to Ask Before You Speak

bigstock-Speak-No-Evil-4964653-e1363801488317As a preacher and writer, I spend a good deal of my time thinking about words. I’ve always been a word guy, in fact, and I suppose that’s one reason I chose the profession I did.

The best and worst part of being a word person is that the things people say to me often stick to me. In contradiction to the old saying, I am not rubber and others are not glue. Instead, I am the glue. Words stick to my heart and soul, sometimes in uncomfortably painful ways.

In our digital age, words are even more permanent than they once were. Everybody now has a platform to publish their words for the world to see. And anybody who spends time on social media has seen the pain caused by unwise words tossed out in the heat of the moment. James once wrote that the tongue is a raging fire; he could say the same thing today about the computer keyboard.

The Bible approaches words from two directions: what to say and what not to say. When my wife and I talk with our kids about their words, we emphasize that every negative statement has a positive counterpart. In other words, the goal isn’t simply to avoid saying the wrong things; it’s to cultivate the art of saying the right things. For the Christian, we do this in partnership with God’s Spirit who lives in us. “No man can tame the tongue,” James tells us. But God can do it if we let Him.

In that regard, let’s hold our words up to the Light of His character. Here are some questions to ask ourselves about our words, before we open our mouths or start typing on Facebook:

1. Are these words helpful? This question is a good starting point. To be clear, helpful words are not always comfortable words. There are times when we can help another person by kindly exhorting or even rebuking him or her. The goal, though, is always to build up rather than to tear down (Eph 4:29).

Often we use words in ways that are merely careless, without considering their impact. We complain, we mouth off, we criticize, or we gossip. I think we talk sometimes simply because we’re afraid of silence. But if our words aren’t going to be helpful, it’s best just to remain quiet.

2. Are these words true? I’ll never forget my junior high classmate who seemed to lie compulsively. Exaggerations and unbelievable stories flowed out of his mouth like water from a spigot. He was so accustomed to lying that I’m not sure he even knew he was doing it anymore. He certainly didn’t seem able to stop.

Most of us lie sometimes, perhaps because we’re trying to save face, or to avoid confrontation, or to get something we want. We lie because we’re looking out for our own interests rather than the interests of others (Phil 2:4). But God never lies, and neither should we. If we are to reflect His perfect character, we need to cultivate truthfulness, even when it hurts.

3. Are these words timed correctly? My wife is a skilled communicator and she often provides helpful feedback for me about my sermons. However, she’s learned over the years that Sunday afternoon is not the ideal time to provide suggestions about my Sunday morning sermon. I’m too tired and sensitive right after I preach; the timing isn’t right, even when the suggestions are helpful.

Proverbs 15:23 says that a “word in season” is good. It’s possible to say the right thing at the wrong time. It takes supernatural wisdom to know whether a person needs to be encouraged, rebuked, or just left alone at any particular moment.

4. Are these words pure? When I was nine or ten years old, I remember one of my baseball teammates saying, “Would you like to hear a dirty joke?” Before I could answer, he said, “A white horse fell into the nasty brown mud!” Fortunately, his “dirty joke” was not as offensive as most of the ones I’ve heard through the years. All too often I’ve heard such jokes from other Christians. To my shame, I’ve occasionally laughed at them or even passed them along to others.

But Ephesians 5:4 cautions us against filthy talk and crude joking. Those types of words are not fitting for men and women who represent the purity of God. Not only that, but impure words are simply a waste of time and energy, when we should be using our words to edify and encourage.

5. Are these words kind and gracious? We all know people who consistently use “truth” as a blunt instrument with which to smack other people in the head. There’s a fine line between being direct and being unkind. Always ask yourself, “How would I want somebody to tell me what I’m about to say? Is the way I’m about to say this consistent with the forgiving and gracious character of Jesus?” If not, rethink your approach. “Speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

By holding up our speech to these five questions, we can avoid most of the negative speech that Scripture warns us about: gossip, sarcasm, lying, verbal abuse, dirty jokes, and other inappropriate words.

What’s more, these questions help us speak in a way that is “seasoned with salt,” full of grace and kindness and love (Col 4:6). They help us use our words to reflect the enduring love and purity and perfection of Jesus our Savior.

So how do your words measure up? Are they helpful, true, well-timed, pure, and kind? If not, hold them up to the light and ask for the power of God’s Spirit to speak what is good.

Enter your email address to subscribe:


 

Tags: , , ,

Load more