You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
- 1 Corinthians 16:15-18
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
- James 1:19-27
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
- Matthew 12:36-37
“Being adamant in word requires the ability to discern between opinion and truth. Opinions are so easy to form and so hard to keep to ourselves. If we are not careful, the giving and receiving of opinions can become addictive. We have at our ﬁngertips access to what everyone thinks and feels. At the same time, we have the ability to put any opinion we may hold out into the opinion ocean in seconds. It can be exciting to hear what everyone is saying, especially when they talk to us. But here is where I must warn you: don’t give the opinions of relative strangers too much power over you.
“ … She very lovingly told me that my words had morphed into a rant. Somewhere along the line I had gone from writing to venting, and by doing so, I was pulling my audience into strife. She pointed out What section should be eliminated … it was half the chapter. I listened. I edited. I’m glad I did. None of us can risk being adrift in the universe of opinions. We all need people in our lives who will tell us what we don’t want to hear. These are people we have a real relationship with. People who are accessible and have our cell phone numbers. People we are submitted to. Yes, I said it. If we are not under authority, then we do not truly have authority. A certain number of followers does not grant any of us authority. A close-knit circle of accountability does.”
- Lisa Bevere, Adamant
Ms. Bevere looks at our words from a variety of angles. Our words can be powerful, both for good and evil. Sometimes our words need to be used for correction and reproof.
She says in the quote above that true friendship allows us to say those hard words that we do not want to hear, but we need to hear anyway. I found that quote extremely important in these days of safe spaces where people only hear what they want to hear. In those safe spaces, we have no true education. We only have indoctrination and brainwashing.
The latest buzz is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing at so rapid a speed that we cannot keep up with it (loose paraphrase of Elon Musk). They say that AI will be smarter than we are in a very few decades, and maybe sooner. That is garbage in that computers only know what programmers tell them. AI can read all the books that are in print, that are known to man, but then their “intelligence” algorithms are simply what the programmer has them do with the information. It may be looking for a prominent opinion or it may be looking for trends. How it is used now is looking at the trends you have in clicking news feeds and ensuring you get nothing other than what you like to read. Thus, you eventually think that opinion to be the right opinion and all other opinions to be false.
Notice how Ms. Bevere says that opinions are dangerous.
Thus, with each of us fed by AI thinking only one thought, as two different thoughts visit each other at a social gathering, there could be anything from a heated disagreement to bloodshed. We get angrier by the minute because people do not see things our way.
Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to submit themselves to Stephanas? Because he had a servant’s heart. Like James says true religion should be – take care of widows and orphans and mind your P’s and Q’s. And Matthew quotes Jesus in saying that our words will be repeated back to us, for good or bad.
The other day, I heard from one person that another person had heard from a third person – if you can follow that – and I had offended someone. I read over what was “offensive” and I stand behind what I said. I said that I was offended that the opinions of the secular progressives caused someone to not speak to their mother for three years, because the mother had slight dementia and might say an offensive word. I knew this woman and she would never say an offensive word to anyone on purpose.
While we should be considerate, some take this too far to control what we can and cannot say. God says for me to spread the word of the Gospel and if I do not do so, I am breaking His command. I will take a risk in offending people rather than falling short of what God wants of me. I will try not to rant, but as a few people love my tongue-in-cheek rants, I may even do that on occasion. I will not offend for the sake of offending. That only brings more strife, and we have far too much of that these days.
But it is obvious that the attack is against Christians at times, in that everyone is offended once we open our mouths, even if we only say, “Hello,” but others can be foul-mouthed and brutal in every word, and the Christian is supposed to simply take the abuse.
You can be brutally honest without being foul-mouthed. On more than one occasion, I have shaken the pastor’s hand on the way out of the worship service and then said, “Preacher, at some point in your sermon you went from preaching to meddling.” Then as the pastor pulls away in horror, I add, “And sometimes, I need that.”
If we can speak the hard words in love and the other person receives them in love, it may hurt, but it will not offend. We need more of that, but as Ms. Bevere mentions, that is a rare relationship indeed.
Lord, guide me. You are the Word. You command us to spread the Word. We are in hostile territory. Help us to choose the right words and let the chips fall where they may. If Your Holy Spirit is involved, those words will not be wasted. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
Amen to this good word and great prayer! This is exactly what the pastor of the church we attend, preached on this morning. Speaking the truth in love, not being offensive, not being easily offended, and not turning a blind eye and remaining silent when someone needs a gentle correction.
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Thanks. I guess this is gentle reinforcement.
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