I was once verbally (textually?) attacked in an online pro-life forum. Yes, I am pro-life and a supporter of this website, so why was I attacked? Because I promoted speaking gently when we correct our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In response to a comment something like, “How can people call themselves Christian if they support abortion? I’m going to bash them every time,” I encouraged speaking to fellow Christians in love when we correct them. (I tried looking back for the actual quote but it appears that they have had a moment of conscience and deleted the conversation.) I was not disagreeing that we should correct our fellow Christians on this topic, but that it should be done thoughtfully and lovingly.
Their response was that I needed to go back and read my Bible if I thought that Jesus didn’t correct people or get angry. It seems that in our quest to always be correct, even Christians are willing to attack each other and accuse people of not being a “real Christian.” I was hurt by these comments, but tried to brush it off as a misunderstanding.
How do we speak the truth in love? How do we make sure that we are heard, but that we do not offend? Some things are difficult to say, but we must try to express these messages in a way that leaves no doubt that we still love the person to whom we are speaking.
What makes us think that being angry will make people listen more? If anything, we should realize that stating something in a judgemental tone, causes the other person to close up to us. We see it in our kids. When we yell, they shut us out and wait for the rant to end. We see it in ourselves. When was the last time someone was yelling or insulting and you took the time to carefully consider their words? If you did, you’re a more patient person than I am! (I certainly have not participated in conversations on the above referenced website again.)
When we do have to correct our fellow believers let it be gently and in love as Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
How much greater is our responsibility in this as the family of Christ! What message does it send those we are sent to witness to if what they witness is us arguing and insulting? In order to demonstrate Christ’s love for others we certainly need to show it within the church. Yet we are human. Within the church are many ages, interests, and personalities. Let us remember the most important commonality between us: the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
When have you been challenged to speak the truth to someone who was less than anxious to hear it?
Lord, help us to see each other with your eyes. Send the Holy Spirit to us with words that express love and the amazing message of what You have done for us!