I have told stories of brave people doing good in the face of great evil.
I have told stories of people with transformed lives who are passing on the transformation.
But lately I have been silent. Not that there haven’t been good stories to tell. But some of the stories I have watched taking place—with fallout that’s still falling—have been so sad, so disappointing, that I have laid my storytelling pen down for a time.
Now I think I can talk about the story that makes me cry.
A War of Words
Once upon a time there was an election. As usual, people chose candidates to side with. They put up signs and took out ads and spoke on radio, hoping their candidates would win. But along the way, they also started belittling, demeaning, and reviling those who disagreed with them. They adopted a mindset—popular in their day—that to disagree was to hate. So they hated back.
They put their hate on placards and marched with them. They tweeted their hate, posted their hate, pinned their hate, snapped their hate. They printed and broadcast their hate. Hateful words flew like bombshells from all directions. It has been raining hateful words.
Then the election ended. But in the war of words, nobody won. It was an uncivil war. It left gaping, bleeding craters in people of all persuasions.
What Comes Out Our Mouths
Elections are not the only time emotions run high and arguments swell the public dialogue. Holiday gatherings with family and “frenemies” can bring out people’s worst, too. Words are lobbed like grenades or planted like land mines.
For Christians, the call is clear: love one another, whatever party, position or past we come from. Sometimes, yes, that kind of loving requires us to speak uncomfortable truth. At those times, truth coupled with love is powerful. Either alone is damaging.
In any context, our Lord sets a high standard for what we speak. His servant Paul explains it this way:
“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.”
Corrupting, rotting, vulgar, unwholesome words should never pass our lips. Hate corrupts. Put-downs corrupt. “Corrupt” is abandoned veggies rotting in my garden in November. Slimy and foul corruption like that should never spew from my mouth. Or yours.
Instead, nutritious, wholesome, constructive words should pour out like balm on hurting, confused, or angry people. Like chicken soup for the sick, our words should bubble up from that place where Christ dwells in us, where our roots go down deep in His love.
Healing War Wounds
Yes, we have all uttered regrettable things. Now is the time to confess, repent, and apologize for the corrupting words we’ve let fly. That’s the beauty of the grace of our God: He forgives us and washes us clean, and then sends us out to carry that same healing to others who are hurt. Including those whom we ourselves have hurt.
Let us go sponge up the mess made by words, and soothe the wounds made by hate.
Let us listen, really listen. Ask questions to understand. Wash wounds, sweeten bitterness. Love while whispering truth.
Let us walk in a manner worthy of our calling.