She ripped me to pieces on Facebook.
This person I didn’t know called me a “so-called Christian” who demonstrated absolutely “no love” in my answer to her question.
I read over what I had written that pushed her buttons. It seemed pretty straightforward. Something like, “If you click on this post here, you’ll find everything you need to know about what we’re reading this month and how to join in. Hope that helps!”
So-called Christian? No love?
Even if she didn’t like my answer, I’d say attacking my personal faith seemed pretty out-of-line.
I’m a people-pleaser. My love language is words of affection. So, when someone vomits criticism all over me like that, I’m pretty much a mushy puddle of disaster on the floor.
Clean up on aisle 5. That’s me.
This time I at least had the gumption to try to let it go. But it’s been a few months since that post and it still gets my heart racing when I think about it.
Sadly, we’ve entered some bizarre dimension of space and time where we can hack at people from the distance and anonymity of our computer.
People don’t feel personally responsible anymore for what they say because there’s no immediate or relational consequence to verbal abuse. We just click ‘send’ or ‘reply’ and cyberspace takes care of the rest.
I’d like to say that as Christians we’re known for rising above these drive-by slanders, but we’re not.
Paul wrote, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5 NIV).
And yet, are Christians known for gentleness? I’d say not likely.
We’re not even known for treating one another with gentleness.
Too often, we’re quick to condemn, mock, judge, criticize, and ostracize one another instead of obeying Scripture and learning how to correct our “opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:25 ESV).
Maybe it’s because we think gentleness is synonymous with wimpy or weak. But that’s not the biblical definition at all.
We model true gentleness after that of Christ, who showed restrained strength and self-control even when responding to attackers.
Those who are spewing harshness are the ones who lack self-control. Gentleness is like holding back the full force of the ocean with quiet determination.
Maybe we think we’re just not gentle people. It’s not our personality. Other people are gentle; but we’re outspoken and frank and that’s just who we are.
“the fruit of the spirit is not a personality trait.”
It’s not like God made some people to be loving and some people to be peaceful and some people to be gentle.
The fruit of the spirit isn’t another biblical catalog of spiritual gifts. It’s what every believer should have at work in us because the Holy Spirit is at work in each of us.
No Christian is exempt from the biblical mandate of gentleness even when handling those with whom we disagree.
In her new book, If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What To Do, Jessie Clemence writes:
Disagreement and discernment are both acceptable. But criticizing people’s efforts to serve God to the best of their ability is totally not fine. Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval” (NLT).
Who are we to condemn the service of another? Who are we to cut down the Lord’s anointed?
But we do it. Sadly we do just that.
Even in cases of doctrinal error, a private conversation or intense prayer can be far more meaningful than public denunciation and mockery.
In Scripture, David made the choice twice not to lay hands on King Saul.
God had abandoned Saul and anointed David to be King. Saul was in error. He was in sin.
If anyone deserved to be confronted publicly, condemned publicly, and punished publicly, it seems like it should be him.
And if anyone deserved to put Saul in his place, it seems like it should be David.
But David wouldn’t do it. Instead, he told his men
“The LORD forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the LORD’s anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him” (1 Samuel 24:6 NLT).
David trusted God to handle Saul.
God forbid that I attack the Lord’s anointed.
God forbid that I criticize them, mock them, or try to destroy their ministry.
God forbid that I stand on my own platform and use it to judge their offering or pounce on their every word in order to pull it apart, take it out of context and denounce them.
I choose gentleness.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1 ESV)
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King