The world around us today seems to be filled with negative attitudes and behaviors. Harsh words are spoken toward others for the smallest of infractions. There seems to be a lack of genuine compassion for others, and people are quick to speak out against others with accusations that may or may not be true. In such a climate, it is easy to fall into the same behavior as those around us, but the Bible is clear in its instructions to us on how we should treat others, both in speech and in our actions.
In 1 Peter 3:8-11, we are told, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” God makes it clear that our behavior is not to mimic those who are in opposition to His Word, but rather that we seek peace instead of treating others with derision and hate.
In Matthew 15:11 and in Mark 7:15, Jesus says, “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” Whatever is truly in our hearts comes out in our speech and our actions. When we get angry and speak harshly toward others, our true feelings come out. When others upset us, but we forgive them and pray for them, it again is our true feelings coming out. We need to look within ourselves when these things happen, and if we find ourselves lashing out in bitterness and anger, it is time to seek God’s help so that we can rid ourselves of the hate that we are harboring inside.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul tells Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” It is easy to look around and hear or read conversations that are filled with many of these characteristics or qualities. But it is especially alarming when we find that these things are coming from those who profess to be Christians. Jesus, in speaking to His disciples after Judas had left the ‘last supper’, said, as we read in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, ‘That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’” Jesus made it clear that those who are truly the children of God will be known by the love they have for others; we cannot love others and condemn them with our speech at the same time. If pride, envy, and love of self are leading you to lash out in hateful accusations of others, it is time to reassess what is truly within, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead you back to humility and the love of God.
In Philippians 2:14-15, we are instructed, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights of the world.” How can we be a light upon the hill that draws others to Christ when we become just like those whose hearts are filled with hatred and condemnation for others? How can the love of God shine through when our tongues are so quick to speak angry and bitter words? Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” When we follow this advice and keep our hearts and minds on these things, what comes out of our mouths will be much different than the hate, envy, and strife that we hear from those who do not know Christ as their Savior.
The entire chapter of James 3 talks about how unruly the human tongue is. In verses 5 and 6, he says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” He continues in verses 8-10, saying, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” Although no man can tame the unruly tongue, nothing is beyond God’s ability. Let us turn to Him when we find ourselves saying things that would bring hurt or harm to anyone else.
In James 3:11-18 we read, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield saltwater and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness and wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
As children of God, we are always being watched by those around us. Although we are not perfect, and I don’t know any child of God who claims to be, we are often held to a higher standard than they expect of themselves and other non-Christians. We should hold ourselves to the same high standards. Yes, we will stumble; we will make mistakes. But when we do so, rather than murmuring about the judgement against us, let us turn to our Heavenly Father and seek the guidance we need to make the needed corrections and stand strong in His Word. Rather than reacting out of anger and frustration, lashing out verbally or physically, let us stand strong and trust God. This is how we let our light shine for all the world to see. This is how we exhibit the good fruit of the Spirit. James 4:7-8 tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw night to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, he double minded.” When trouble comes…and it will come…don’t give in to the desire to speak out in frustration or anger. Instead, hold on to God and His promises. He will see us through every trial and tribulation and fight our every battle.
Grace and blessings on your path,