Insightful or Inciting: How Christians Should Respond When Other Christians Disappoint
You will be disappointed by other Christians. Count on it. The overused adage is true. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.
So how should we respond? Our responses usually fall into two broad categories: Insightful, thought-filled attempts to solve the problem, bridge the gap, and figure out our differences. Or…Inciting comments that inflame others in a passionate rant about the problem but make no attempts at solving the problem.
Anyone can call a problem a problem. Monday mornings are filled with quarterbacks whose limited high school experience has somehow made them experts on what Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Tony Romo should have done differently. Big whoop. Even I know when my Jeep is acting up. I have no idea how to fix it, or the exact nature of the problem. I just know there’s a problem.
Proverbs 15 is replete with instruction on how to respond when others disappoint.
A soft tongue turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (15:2)
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (15:4)
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. (15:7)
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. (15:14)
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (15:18)
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (15:28)
Insightful words are directed to the disappointing Christian, not the public. Facebook isn’t the place to publicly air your problems with other Christians. You hurt the cause of Christ, cowardly hide behind technology, and incite people who know little of the details of your problems. Facebook has become the Jerry Springer show of all things controversial. It is just as wrong to make others who disappoint you into verbal punching bags, as it is to go on national TV and physically sucker punch them.
Insightful words focus on facts, not feelings. Notice the repeated use of the word “knowledge” in Proverbs 15. The tongue of the wise commends “knowledge.” The lips of the wise spread “knowledge.” The heart of an understanding person seeks “knowledge.” Just because CNN and FOX can shoot at one another across the bow of their proverbial ships, doesn’t mean Christians are somehow entitled to the same privileges. When did mainstream media become our model for effective, compassionate communication?
Insightful words build up, not tear down. A gentle tongue is a tree of life. Anybody can rip someone to shreds. It takes a careful craftsman with words to take a fragmented and broken situation and build it into a masterpiece of reconciliation. Here’s a test: when I’m finished, will the other person be better for my words, or worse?
Insightful words disagree without destroying. The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer. Not answering is not an option. Speaking up is necessary. Disagreeing will happen. Destroying another person must never happen. Nowhere in Scripture are Christians given the right to destroy someone else.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
What if we covered more offenses than we exposed by gently speaking the truth in love.