Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Disapproving Love

Ah, yes, the obligatory post on love, even though it's a few weeks past Valentine's Day...

Love is one of the most beautiful and unique words in the Bible. Particular passages on love have crept outside the doors of the church and seemingly infiltrated most corners of even secular society. "Love is patient, love is kind..." "Love your neighbor as yourself..." "For God so loved the world..."

I'm not sure when it happened but "love" has become a trendy, hip word. It became a word that signifies "acceptance", "approval", "tolerance", regardless of the issue. If you truly love, our culture teaches, you will accept everyone for who they are and the lifestyle they choose to lead. Not only will you accept them, but you will applaud their choices, so as not to be a hater. Whether it's sexual expression, spirituality, or politics, we are implicitly and explicitly admonished to approve and applaud of all positions, decisions, and choices. After all, to disapprove means a lack of love, right?

This is not the love of the Bible. This, if I may, is not the love of Jesus. Many are quick to point out Jesus' grace on the adulterous woman in John 8. "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her...Neither do I condemn you," many are quick to point out. Jesus' command to "Go, and from now on sin no more" is less celebrated in our day and age. What is often overlooked is that the love of Jesus' is a disapproving love. What I mean is that, because of his love, Jesus disapproves of practices and beliefs that dishonor God and harm the soul of man. If we are to love the way that Jesus loved, doesn't that indicate that at times, disapproving of a lifestyle or belief may be the most loving thing we can do? Does the fellow hiker who gives a warning about a treacherous trail, or a rattlesnake on the path not warn his companion of nearby dangers out of love?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating a haughty, quick-to-judge, or critical mentality. But as believers, as CHRISTians, let's not be afraid to love like Jesus did- at times, that means lovingly disapproving of actions, attitudes, and beliefs that dishonor God and harm God's image-bearers. We must love this way for God's glory and for man's good.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sarcasm Seasoned Speech

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt..." Colossians 4:6

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

You know the really convicting part about the above verses? It's the fact that both speak about how our speech should exclusively be. How often is my speech to be gracious? Colossians 4:6 answers "always." How much corrupting talk should exit my mouth? Ephesians 4:29 indicates "none", and that "only" edifying speech should be present. Those are tough commands, right there, and such commands apply today to our spoken, written, and typed communication.

What concerns me most when I analyze the way that I talk and communicate is that it appears that sarcasm, not gracious, edifying speech, is often the type of speech that "always" or "only" leaves my mouth. In other words, sarcasm is my default way of talking or communicating; to speak in a sincere, edifying, and gracious way, I often have to "reprogram" myself and go against my default. Moreover, in most instances sarcasm and gracious speech are mutually exclusive! Meaning, if I'm being sarcastic, there's no way that I'm also being gracious! Maybe you can relate?

Sarcastic speech is likely grown in many different soils. Maybe sarcasm is a shield to hide behind, and I'm sarcastic because I'm afraid to be found out. Maybe sarcasm is the path of least resistance, and I'm sarcastic because sincerity is hard, and seriousness often mocked in our culture. Maybe sarcasm is a stage to arrogantly display my wittiness, and I'm sarcastic because jocularity gets more laughs and attention than encouragement.

I'm not saying that gracious speech should be easy to come by; nor am I saying that there is no place for humor or sarcasm. But we are in a dangerous spot when our springs naturally flow sarcastic waters rather than grace-giving waters. If you are part of Sarcastics Anonymous like myself (I am the chairman), make it a point each day to speak graciously, to respond sincerely, and to think about what's edifying (not just what's funny) before you speak, write, or type.