Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up… (Eph. 4:29)
Have you ever noticed how political and social issues have a way of bringing out the worst in people? Does the degree of verbal slander between opposing positions, particularly in matters of religion and politics, seem over the top to you? It’s easy to get caught up in the verbal name-calling. Perhaps it’s time to hit pause and ask how our conversations exalt Christ?
I do believe our nation is at a crossroads in terms of the character, values, and core beliefs that define us as a nation. As rhetoric and opinions amplify through vicious incivility, we must guard ourselves from crass and derisive ridicule of those with whom we disagree. There is nothing to gain by losing our cool, including our ability to make a positive impact on our grandchildren.
Let’s face it. There is plenty going on in the world today to raise the ire of any one of us, yet many situations do not merit or need our response. Why should we get caught up in the incivility of conversations about matters about which there is disagreement? Even when the truth is at stake, should incivility characterize our conversations about such matters? As a grandparent, I do not want my grandchildren hearing me speak disparagingly about other people simply because we do not agree. I do not want them to learn from me that it is okay to demean others even if I know they are wrong. Oh, how often I have failed in this regard!
Let’s not use our failures as an excuse to continue. Godly grandparents do not want to see their grandchildren become self-righteous, arrogant, and disrespectful, even if they are treated disrespectfully and hated by the world. We want them to walk in the truth as kind, gracious men and women, who treat everyone as persons made in the image of God… just as we are. Let’s be an example to them.
Here are a few biblical principles that we should all take to heart if we want our grandkids to imitate us in the process of expressing opinions with civility and respect:
- Cultivate a humble heart: Remember God opposes (that’s scary) the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Pride is nurtured by a grand illusion of self-importance and self-promotion; humility actually sees others as better than ourselves. That’s radical!
- Practice patience: Proverbs says a hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. Patience rests confidently in the providential work of God in others…and in me, in God’s time. We’re all messy, so let’s bear with one another.
- Learn to forgive: Forgiveness happens when I realize how much I have been forgiven and how much there is for which I still need to repent (See Eph. 4:32). Forgiveness does not justify sin or human depravity. It only acknowledges that there, but by the grace of God, go I. We’re all messy, so let’s forgive one another.
- Speak words of blessing: Words of criticism and cursing sometimes come easier than words of blessing. To bless is to intentionally speak well of another. If I can’t do that, then maybe I should keep my mouth shut. Maybe I should model to my grandchildren the practice of praying for our leaders and those we disagree with instead of ridiculing them.
I grant you, there is plenty to be concerned about in our world right now. I’m not suggesting we neglect helping our grandchildren understand the issues at stake. It is important to talk about what is going on in our world and why. But losing our cool through unwholesome speech does not reflect well on the truth or on our heart, does it? And it won’t help our grandchildren’s heart either. And it certainly does not display the glory of God as image-bearers of God.
GRANDPAUSE: None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves. -Charles Spurgeon