The problem with falling down is not just the initial shock or the pain of blunt force trauma to your backside, but the consternation and wounding of your pride as others look on. Worse than that is when the fall is not physical at all, but a spiritual, emotional or moral tumble that leaves you even more deeply wounded.
Not only do others see, but they mock, they laugh, they judge.
As if the spectacle itself isn’t enough, speculation and supposition run their course. Verbal and public attacks on social media take on a life of their own, and soon the issue is more than just a wounded pride–it is a broken spirit.
If we all fall down sometimes, why has criticism and judgement become so rampant on social media?
Whatever happened to Christian charity and godly discernment?
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
“We too all previously…”
Have we forgotten where we have come from? Do we not all fall? Since when has kicking someone who is down become a sport that is championed and cheered?
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” Ephesians 2:4-5
There is not one among us that hasn’t made a rash comment or at the very least taken another to court in our mind… but if grace is what has saved us, shouldn’t grace also be the mantra we live by? The battle of words that we see so rampant today is a sad testimony to the world around us. Criticism and disagreement in the public forum has trumped the biblical method of rebuking one on one. What should be spoken out of love and concern often looks more like a public lashing.
In my walk through the Bible, I am learning much about how God’s grace and mercy go hand in hand. God is holy and righteous and just. Of course He asks us to follow His plan and not our own. But lest we forget, part of that plan was to give every person the opportunity to know Him, and it was God’s grace that brought salvation:
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Paul goes on to encourage believers to walk in grace:
“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-4
Walking in grace doesn’t mean that we ignore or take sin lightly, but when we see a brother stumble, our job is to lift him up–not tear him down. While we do have the freedom to speak out against a wrong, it often becomes more of a difference of opinion that turns into a criticism of one’s character. Christian charity should look and sound very different from the world’s view:
“But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
Rather than pointing fingers or worse, we should consider our words carefully before going down this dangerous path. Our opinions are just that–opinions. While the court of public opinion changes direction with the wind, God’s Word never changes. Some of the worst conflicts in Christian circles come when arguments are stirred up over the interpretation of the Bible. Not a disagreement over sin, but over opinion–and who is right or wrong. How it must grieve the Holy Spirit when our very public discourse rages like a wildfire–while a world that is looking for hope and grace watches. You don’t draw closer to watch a wildfire–you back away to avoid being burned; so rather than being attracted to the Gospel, they avoid it like the plague.
Don’t forget Jesus’ command to be salt and light in the world. When we stop long enough to consider the impact of our words, it changes our relationships. Negativity can breed, but so can kindness. Kind people attract others just like a bug is attracted to light.
I love how practical the book of Ephesians is. God knew that relationships are messy–and He knew that we would need His help in navigating them. Do you struggle with knowing when to speak and when to be silent? Seeking an answer from God’s Word is the first step. When you recognize that God sees all and knows all, and you choose to seek Him, you are relinquishing your will and your “rights” for the good of others and for the kingdom.
“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:29-32
Staying in The Word is crucial for a correct perspective.
We are not going to win the world with our theological arguments. All of the Law, theology and even knowledge was given so we would have a foundation. A starting place. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith came to put bring all of those things to life. He set the example for us by showing us, not just what God is like, but what He wants believers to look like. If you read His Story you will see how He interacted with people. He didn’t just come to explain Scripture–He came to fulfill it.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
After reading the book of Ephesians over and over, I am reminded that what we say does matter. Our words and our actions can have a lasting impact, for good or for bad. It is important that I remember–and let my readers know that anything that I write or share is my own opinion unless it is a direct quote from God’s Word. I can talk about what He is teaching me, but when taking a stand on what the Bible says is truth, I should aways use caution that I don’t share it in a way that will do more harm than good.
3 Things to Remember Before Speaking Out:
- Walk in Love. Am I speaking something that I believe is true with the intention of bringing hope and healing, or am I really just attacking someone’s character or judgement? Remind yourself that it’s always time to be kind!
- Pursue Peace. Am I reacting out of anger, frustration, or self-righteous indignation? Could my words give the impression that I am more interested in stirring up conflict or forcing my opinion than I am in restoring a brother? Check your motives!
- Walk Humbly. Truth reigns. You don’t. The goal should be nothing more than to honor the Lord. Far too often, criticism–even when it is spoken in truth–is not God-honoring because of the method in which it was shared. Jesus’ harshest criticism was for the Pharisees who thought they had all the answers, yet failed to act out of love and mercy. Being “right” might win an argument, but it could cost you a relationship.
If you are following my, Scripture Challenge: A Verse from Every Book in the Bible: GENESIS 1:1, then won’t you join me in memorizing Ephesians 5:1-2? You are welcome to save this image for a screensaver to help you memorize it, or print it out and stick it on your mirror. Verse two sums it up for me: “WALK IN LOVE”. Salvation is a gift. It is a gift that was given in love and one that should be shared in love.
When we pick up the fallen, rescue the perishing, and give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, we are demonstrating God’s love. Wherever He leads you today, walk in love.