It wasn’t one of my more profound statements.
I tend to speak only when I have something of note to say. After listening to the story of one of my friends, I responded, “People are so poopy sometimes.”
My friend looked at me with a quizzical look and asked, “What did you just say, Heather?”
I repeated, “People can be poopy sometimes.”
Another friend in our circle offered, “You can quote Heather on that.”
Yet, the fact of the matter is that people disappoint us with their words and their actions. It’s especially disconcerting when it happens in ministry circles. As a missionary to southern Africa and as a representative of Jesus Christ, I believe people should conduct themselves with integrity, with humility, and with loving hearts. Our words and thoughts are set upon honoring our Lord and Savior as best we can.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
People say destructive, soul-shattering things. If they would stop and reflect upon the impact of their words, I am sure they would reconsider. However, it’s difficult to take the inflicted harm back – especially in a social media world which feeds upon such noxiousness.
Why is it that some people enjoy seeing someone knocked off their feet and then proceed to join in the debauchery to keep the wounded one down?
One mistake. One misstep. One injury. One misspoken word. One disagreement. One misunderstanding. One hardship. It doesn’t matter much what the action or word is, people seem to pounce and punch and yell and attack if the word or action doesn’t mesh with their worldview or idea of how things should be.
There’s just too much of this type of cruel, negative behavior going around these days.
Is it that we have been so injured and scarred by the depravity of man that we decide to bring others down into the pit of despair with us?
Does misery enjoy such sad, despondent company?
If you are a follower of Christ like me, we have no excuse to act this way.
We are empowered to live a Christ-honoring life through the dynamic influence of the Holy Spirit. We are free of sin and its control in our lives. Any kind of behavior that yells, screams, attacks, or harms another person is sin. There is no way around this truth.
Paul emphasized this fact when he wrote these words to Titus, a Greek young man who responded to the Gospel message and then in turn became a disciple of Jesus Christ and leader in the early Church:
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
New International Version, Titus 2: 11 – 14
We are encouraged to live self-controlled, upright, godly, and hope-filled lives in Christ.
How is this possible?
Did you catch the exhortative hint to Titus?
We live hope-filled, godly, upright, self-controlled live through the grace offered us in Christ.
Grace teaches us to say ‘no’ to the yelling, screaming, injurious ways of this fallen world.
The grace of Christ instructs our hearts and minds to bless others rather than curse them.
As His followers and His people, we are called to speak and act with the intent of doing good in the lives of others. The Greek transliterated word for good is kalos. It’s an incredible word that calls to mind so much more than its English equivalent. For kalos means something that is beautiful, handsome, excellent, choice, precious, surpassing, useful, commendable, admirable and honorable. Like I said, kalos is a surpassing, excellent, precious, honorable good!
Grace teaches us to look upon others with honor.
Grace instructs us to speak choice and excellent words into the lives of others.
Grace helps us understand the beauty and wonder of the diversity of man.
Grace prepares us to be diligent in our work by hand, heart and mind.
Grace guides our prayers.
Grace nurtures a patient, kind spirit within us.
Grace develops and expands our love.
Grace affords joy and delight in word and action.
Grace inspires hope.
I cannot help but wonder what would have happened with my friend had these experiences with others been motivated by grace as opposed to poopiness. Yes, you can quote me on that. My friend was laid low by the hurtful, condescending words of others.
This is happening far too often in all avenues of life and with all manners of people.
Where are the grace-filled people?
Where are the hope-filled people?
Where are the people of Christ who are so grateful for the grace they have received that they in turn will offer grace and love to those in their midst? Even on a bad day? Even to others who may not deserve it? Even when we don’t feel like it? Even to those with whom we disagree? Even to those we do not like very much? For I believe that when we offer and bestow grace on our tough and disagreeable days, that is a surpassingly-excellent thing. It shows that we are more eager to honor Christ than to give in to our selfishness.
We remember and live into this wondrous truth:
Jesus Christ has liberated us from the wicked ways of this world in order to be grace-givers.
Friends, I write these words with humility, but also with serious exhortation:
Think before you speak.
Think before you write.
Think before you post.
Think before you act.
Do your words – spoken and written – demonstrate the grace and love founded upon the hope of Jesus Christ? Especially if you are one of His people?
A friend of mine was hurt because others didn’t think – they just hurled insults without understanding, without grace, and without love. It was disappointing and it was cruel. These words inflicted significant harm.
We can do better.
Grace teaches us to live honorable, loving, and compassionate lives in Christ.