Wisdom Seeker: Day 20

Proverbs 20

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

Proverbs 20:22

As usual when reading the proverbs, there are several potent verses I could focus on. Today, however, I really want to look at two that caught my attention as related and highly relevant in the tense climate propagated on social media.

Maybe especially with another Presidential election campaign looming like a seedy circus freak show, I see the wisdom in verses 3 and 22.

Goodness, people. Please, please let’s not have another embarrassing repeat of 2016. I’m not talking about the winner or loser or any of that; I’m talking about the way we behaved as a nation.

The fact that our “debates” have denigrated into a sideshow where candidates primarily take cheap potshots at one another and at their opponents’ follow ought to mortify us. What happened to gentlemanly disagreement? To actually and intellectually covering the issues we face as a culture? To reality, for Pete’s sake??

Then the behavior of the supporters of Clinton – throwing a real-life, honest-to-goodness pity party complete with “cry rooms” in colleges and mourning as if a 4-year term was a harbinger of the world’s end!

What in the world have we come to? Playground politics? Do we need to re-institute nap times and snack times? Revisit the preschool days where we learn not to pull Sally’s hair, to share with Billy, to take our turn on the slide?

OK, enough of my little rant. Sometimes I just gotta say something, I guess.

But in reality, is there any actual use for a rant? Probably not. My words aren’t likely to change anyone’s mind or behavior. In fact, they could potentially incite a quarrel.

And that’s what I want to address today.

When it comes to social media, it behooves those of us who know Christ not to enter into the fray of social media vitriol.

Oh I’m not saying we should say nothing. Far from it! After all, I did have my little rant, did I not? However, when it comes down to it, before we type any words, we need to think first.

Does what I’m about to say honor God? Does it dishonor Him in any way? Is it useful to others? Does it need to be said? If it does, am I saying it in a truthful and modest way? Is my interest in defending the Lord’s honor or mine? Am I more interested in justice or in being right?

There are a million other questions we can ask, but all in all, keep verse 22 in mind. It reminds me of another passage:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:19-21

Ultimately, justice will be done. It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Where there is evil in the world, we ought to expose it – especially if it dwells in our own hearts. So have your little rants (like mine) in an appropriate forum. But for heaven’s sake, don’t enter into a quarrel or controversy over them!

If there is truth in your words, the Lord will bring it out. If He compels you to write something, be obedient by all means! But if it’s just you speaking, well… keep it behind your teeth (or off the screen, in the case of social media).

If some point or bit of Scripture you speak about brings the sting of conviction to someone else, let the Lord handle it. After all, that is His job.

Sometimes, the backlash we hear and try to defend against is nothing more than a fellow human being wrestling under the weight of conviction. If that is the case, have compassion, Believer!

Remember how it feels to be under conviction and keep silent. Don’t offer a distraction by entering into a squabble. Just let the Holy Spirit do His glorious work and pray for those who threaten or curse you. It really isn’t about you and me, after all.

Remember, our enemy is not the other political party or the guy on the other end of the social media commentary war. Our enemy is the one who deceives and hates, the one who thrives on division, strife, and conflict.

Let’s not be party to the old snake’s devices, ‘mkay?

PS: I felt it necessary to add a post script to this one. Concerning my rant, do I really think and feel those things? Absolutely, yes. Do I normally spout them out on the internet? Rarely – and more and more rarely as the Spirit of God convicts me to stick to His truth and keep my opinions to myself.

Today I used my unvarnished opinion to (hopefully) elicit an emotional response and lead into my point. Truth is truth, and I’ll stand behind the truth of God’s Word if it costs me my life. My life is His, anyway. But my stuff? Well, that’s just mine. Take it or leave it. 😉

Tuesday Prayer: Communication

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
(Colossians 4:6)

Mighty Creator God, You fashioned mankind after Your own image, bestowing on us the blessings of creativity, of sight and hearing and speech so that we may see Your good works, hear Your voice, and lift our voices in praise to You. Yet we have fallen. From the first man down through the generations and spanning the billions of lives in human history, we have all fallen and soiled Your glorious image with the dirt of this earth.

All men but One, that is.

Your Son alone walked this earth as a man, redeeming mankind and presenting the perfect Image of God. He was Man as mankind was meant to be, walking in humility and love, honoring the Father and obedient to His will. It is through Him alone that we  can cover our rags once more in the resplendence of the Light of the world, the spotless garment of righteousness offered us by our King.

All of us who are in Christ now bear the privilege and the responsibility of bearing Your image well; of representing Your name and Your Kingdom accurately to a lost and dying world. For this reason today, Lord, we ask that You will set a guard over our lips and keep watch over the door to our mouths.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
(Psalms 141:3)

In all our communications with others – verbally, over social media, via body language, in our commute, around our tables, in our homes, in the marketplaces, or wherever we find ourselves – teach us to use gracious speech. Where firmness is needed, show us how to be unyielding and yet gentle as we not only proclaim Your truth but exemplify it in our lives.

Lord, when controversies arise as they so often do in this era of information overload, remind us that the Lord’s servant is not to be quarrelsome but kind to all, able to teach, and correcting those in opposition to Your truth with gentleness.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…
(2 Timothy 2:23-25)

Instead of seeing people with viewpoints that oppose Your truth as our enemies, remind ourselves who our true enemy is – the accuser and father of lies. As we wage war against his forces on this earth, remind us to do battle with humility, always leaning on You, the Lord of Hosts who fights for us.

Remind us, too, to pray for those who are ensnared by the devil so that they may be set free by Christ. And as we pray for them, remind us to pray that we do not become entangled in sin ourselves but instead pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with a pure heart, amen.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
(2 Timothy 2:22)

Apt Words Then and Now

In the course of my life-coaching with my blonde daughter, I’ve read some of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. This section stood out to me as incredibly pertinent to the modern day. It also reminded me of some more ancient words penned in a letter to a young preacher named Timothy some hundreds of years ago.

“In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling [sic] and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country. Whenever I was solicited to insert any thing of that kind, and the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper was like a stage-coach, in which any one who would pay had a right to a place, my answer was, that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill their papers with private altercation, in which they had no concern, without doing them manifest injustice. Now many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences.These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and disgrace their profession by such infamous practices…”  –Benjamin Franklin from his autobiography

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene…
(2 Timothy 2:14-17a)