Yesterday I posted on my private FB page that Christians need to strive to live in truth instead of the emotional tailspin of assumptions and accusations. I referenced Philippians 4:8-9:
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things.”
This was in response to — you guessed it — the barrage of FB posts regarding Donald Trump’s alleged comments. Some of you are already upset that I wrote the word “alleged” because either you wholeheartedly believe he’s guilty, or the accusation itself is so upsetting to you.
Let me say first and foremost, I am just as upset and I do understand your anger and hurt. I would also lean more toward believing Trump is guilty of the accusations because – you guessed right again — he’s been a foul-mouth from the get-go. But does that make his comments true? No. We can assume if we choose. We can even presume based on the reliable information we do have. We are also free to form opinions and express our outrage and hurt.
But, here’s what Christians should not do.
We should not promote a spirit of anger and hatred — especially toward someone who, whether sincere or not, is a professed Christian. Again, we can’t see into anyone’s heart so the validity of Donald Trump’s faith is between him and God. Why “especially” not toward another Christian? Because they are forgiven, justified, children of God Almighty and we have a strong command to love one another and promote peace within the body of Christ.
Posting our anger and outrage on social media is slacktivism at best, and at worst it hurts the gospel of grace and forgiveness we profess in Christ. Yes, it’s good to speak out against what is wrong. But it should always be done with the hope that the wrongdoer(s) will turn to Christ and find forgiveness. That’s a far cry from what I’m seeing on social media.
What should Christians do?
The President desperately needs our prayers as well as our maturity in Christ because he is obviously lacking in both. We should also pray his Christian friends and family will go to him with the compassion of a sinner, the love of Christ, and the stern warning of God’s authority.
We can also use our influence, as little or great as God has given us, to spread a spirit of grace, truth, and love. Matthew 24:12 warns that the end days will be filled with so much wickedness “the love of most will grow cold.” Not the love of some or even many — but the love of most! We need to fight against that with the spirit of grace, truth, and love! If we won’t, who will?
If the truth proves to be hurtful and the guilty need of correction, we need to offer the spirit of humility. It’s good and right to let sin anger us. What we shouldn’t do is act as if we are above correction or without the need for forgiveness.
If we simply can’t find it in our hurt and angered hearts to pray for those who’ve hurt us and seek to live in the spirit of compassion, grace, truth, love, and humility – then we need to seek a spirit of repentance.
As I type this I realize my own hypocrisy. I’ve been where others are right now and I haven’t always taken my own advice. But I should have. Elevating myself to a holier-than-thou position and stepping into the mud-slinging arena of anger and intolerance toward my offenders got me to one place: REGRET.
It also made me guilty of a greater sin because I am a mature believer in Christ who knows better. Yes, when mature Christians sling mud at unbelievers or those who are weak in their faith, we are guilty of a greater sin.
When mature Christians sling mud and unforgiveness at unbelievers or those who are weak in their faith, we are guilty of a greater sin.
We might fool a lot of onlookers with our “righteous” words, but we don’t fool God. If we think for one second that we aren’t just as guilty as Donald Trump, we have a LOT of soul-searching to do … because we are. We are guilty of lashing out in stupidity and immaturity. We are guilty of intolerance toward those who offend us. We are guilty of calling people mean names. We are guilty of prejudices and some are guilty of racism too. And if the sin didn’t reach our lips, it still reached our hearts and proved our guilt to the One who judges the heart.
My plea, brothers and sisters, is that we would search our hearts before speaking with our mouths (or typing with our fingers). It’s easy to love the loveable. Are we willing to love those who shoot poisonous arrows straight into our hearts? It’s easy to show compassion to the weak and needy. Are we willing to give it to the haughty and obnoxious? It’s safe to stand with the “righteous” crowds and sling stones at the guilty.
Are we willing to step forward, put our arms around the guilty, and say to those with the stones, “Those who are without sin, let them cast the first stone”?
I posted the beginning of Philippians 4:9 above but I think the promise it ends with is even more important:
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:9; emphasis added)”
Simply put, we need to practice what we preach – especially when it hurts!
This is the burden we carry as the forgiven followers of Christ. More than that, it’s the command we’ve been given as children and heirs to the Kingdom of God.