“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure.
Those words were spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees. They are strong words. And they point to the danger of how we speak to others. He calls them “careless.” He says we may even be condemned as a result of our carelessness. Of course, it’s not just the words themselves that lead to condemnation, but the heart behind the words. As Jesus also taught,
The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.Matthew 15:18-19
Therefore, this is, in its essence, a heart problem. The Lord will judge the heart. But the words aimed at others are what they will hear, and that’s where the damage is done to them when we speak carelessly, sometimes out of spite or out of a desire to insult or demean.
During these past few years, the political scene in America has caused me to reevaluate my words. I have written on this blog now for nearly fourteen years, and although my intent has been to inform, educate, and persuade toward truth, as I look back on many of my earlier posts, I now cringe at some of the words I used, some of the memes I posted, and even some of the political cartoons that I thought were “right on.” The goal, all too often, I now see, was to put people in their place, so to speak. I sought to show them just how wrong they were and that I had the correct understanding.
It’s not ungodly to point out sins, errors, and false philosophies. Sometimes, it is necessary. Yet it must be done in the proper, i.e., Christian, spirit. We can judge, but there is a prerequisite:
“Do not judge, or you will be judged. For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
As I watched the civic discourse degenerate in the past six years, it was easy to judge what others were saying and doing. It was particularly grievous to see Christians seemingly lay aside their concerns for the moral status of political leaders and follow them—even promote them—simply because they were on the same side politically. And when I didn’t agree with them, I was often castigated for my “unchristian” stance.
The Lord finally got through to me that I had to look at myself first. Was I falling into the pattern of insulting and demeaning others? Was there a beam in my own eye that needed to be removed first? If you have been reading my posts lately, you should notice that I have backed away significantly from all political posting.
I will still write what I consider necessary. If there are sins to be pointed out, I might do so. If there is wrong thinking taking place, I will offer my opinion. But I want to do it in the right way. I constantly keep in mind this exhortation from the Apostle Paul:
Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.Ephesians 4:29
I am seeking to have a clear conscience before both God and man. I hope you will seek to do the same because it’s required of all who go by the name Christian.