Be the Voice – Part 2

Today in the world it is all around us.  This feeling of conflict, anger and the dangerous slope that comes along for the ride.  We are quickly becoming that proverbial snowball that once small has now started to pick up steam and is determined to become larger and will not stop until severe damage is done.

Turn on the television.  Click on social media.  Open the door and walk about your neighborhood and it is residing all around us.  Suffocating us until we can no longer take it.  We decide to either join in or walk away from it, if we are able.

Case in point.  All over the news these past few weeks America has sunk to an all time low.  We have taken a man’s character and torn it to shreds.  His privacy gone.  His good name dragged through the mud.  His life may be destroyed, and restoration may never come due to irreparable damage to his character.

The truth is buried, and no one seems to be willing to search for it.  Accusatory fingers are pointed on all sides and the division seeps deeper each day.  Sad to say we have been there for some time folks and I do not hear many voices willing to stand up and fight this battle.

As Christians we need to get involved even though there may never be a clear winner and even though it will get quite messy.  People need someone with a voice to stand up, but before we can do that we need to fully assess the situation, strategically plan a resolution and then act on it.

I truly believe that we are in the beginning of the end of times as 2 Timothy 3:1-5 points out, Matthew 24:7 attests to, and 2 Peter 3:3-4 warns us about.

“This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.”

            “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, and divers places.”

            “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’.  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

Open your eyes and look around and it is clear this is where we are right now.  This is not meant to be a doom and gloom blog, but rather I want to focus on the problem and then shine a light on the hope that lies underneath this.

The problem is man is quick to think about himself first and slow to reach out and help others.  We are very complacent and reluctant to the idea of change.  As a Christian we are called as ambassadors for Christ, to be the light and the example that shines for others to see with the hope that the lost will inquire and want to search for God.  We are to live our lives righteously and not conform to the desires of this world.  We are commanded to speak up yet be temperate and slow to anger; be honest and not deceptive; warn but use tact and gentleness when broaching any situation; and show compassion towards others and not be accusatory.  Quite the balancing act to maintain in such a fallen world!

A lot of us get trapped by this and react in a way not fitting for a Christian.  Tempers flare, gossip spreads, lie surface, compassion never shows up and the distance between us and the lost appears to be getting larger.  So, let’s look at His word to see the problem up close and the remedy for each area.

I want to begin our focus on anger itself and the path of destruction it causes.  We are strange people.  We let everything affect us and rattle us and are quick to let others know or see our anger.  While it may seem to be a relished release and feel good to let things off our chest, it rarely, if ever, solves anything.  We seem to get the nerve to speak up, sound off, but we wind up doing more damage and feel frustrated once it is over.  We also do not look good in this light.

James 1:19-20, Ephesians 4:26-27 and 4:29-31, and Ecclesiastes 7:9 are good examples that demonstrate the futility of anger and offers wisdom in its warnings against anger.

“Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

            “Be ye angry, and sin not.  Let not the sin go down upon your wrath. Neither give place to the devil.”

            “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minster grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

            “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”

However, there is always a remedy for every problem, but we must earnestly seek it.  Here in Proverbs 15:1 much wisdom is offered.  Wisdom is priceless and must be sought after, but you cannot stop there, you need to hear it and then apply it for it to work.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”

Anger can come in many forms:  conflict, false witness, and gossip, so let’s look at each of these areas.

Many of us have been dissatisfied at some point in time and we sought ways to find either satisfaction or ways to help us stoke the fire of anger and keep it simmering in the background.   We all know someone, or we may even have been that someone, who likes to instigate, quarrel, and loves to keep arguments alive and thriving for their own personal agenda.

In Proverbs 29:22 we recognize the traits of a quarrelsome person and it is not a pretty picture.  I suggest that you keep a mirror handy to see if you have ever resembled this portrait.

“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”

Conflict is a never-ending condition that only leads to more dissension as is pointed out or advised in Titus 3:9-11.

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

The remedy to this is in Matthew 5:9 when it gently suggests us to respond instead as peacemakers for which we are called.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

We are warned in James 3:13-17 where our fleshly desires can lead us.

 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?  Let him show out of good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

However, the remedy here in Proverbs 11:12 instructs us that we must first find understanding to know how to respond.

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor, but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

In Proverbs 16:27 we can see that conflict, once bred, soon becomes insatiable.

            “An ungodly man diggeth up evil, and in his lips there is as a burning fire.”

Again, the remedy in Galatians 5:22-26 can be maintained if we use the fruits of the Spirit that we were given when we came to Christ and apply them faithfully.

“But the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lust.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Another area we must examine is when we give false witness.  A lot of people tend to say things about others that simply are not true.  They may be jealous, have hatred in their hearts, or a hidden agenda.  Though we may never know why someone does this, we can recognize not only what it is, but how much damage comes from this action.  Right now, an innocent man may be stripped of his rights, his freedom, and all that he has worked for because of possible lies being spread and impugning his good name.  How does he get that back once it was taken away?

In Exodus 23:1 we have one of the first references regarding false witness, in Proverbs 19:5 we are warned about the consequences about bearing false witness, Deuteronomy 5:20 commands us against giving false witness, and Proverbs 24:28 also advises us about not being false witnesses.

“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”

            “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”

            “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

            “Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.”

In Ephesians 4:15 and 4:25 the remedy is crystal clear and that is that we must seek and speak the truth whenever we are to encounter false witness from others, or as a preventative means to bearing false witness in the first place.  Why weave to deceive when we can just be truthful and believe and give our best to everyone?

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

Another treacherous area is watch out for is the spread of gossip.  The saying goes gossip when fed spreads quickly and takes a long time to extinguish.  We relish gossiping more than anything else.  Everyone loves a great story or rumor to digest and then spread.

However, we learn in Proverbs 11:13, 18:8 and 16:28 the signs of a gossiper, and the damage caused to oneself and others whenever we choose to gossip.

“A talebearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

“A froward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

The remedy found in Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29, and Proverbs 10:19 shows us the wisdom needed and the instructions to follow whenever we are tempted to turn an ear to gossip.

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

Another big area that we need to focus on is our determination to judge someone for their sins, as well as our lack of understanding or compassion, both of which are due to a loss of common decency and our inability to be tactful.  Yes, as Christians, we are to warn others when they are backsliding or stuck in their sin, but we are never to assume the right to judge them.  We need to get back to the concept of loving each other and through our love and mercy, doors can and will be opened.

Anyone who has eyes has seen that our culture has had a huge decline of common decency.  We no longer show courtesy or respect to others something that our country was originally founded on.  We lack manners, we ignore others, degrade one another, and so much more.  Every year we seem to decline more and more and this is no longer the America I once recognized, loved and tried to live patriotically for.

Everyone has an opinion and is ready to state it whether we want to hear it or not.  People are rarely eloquent, and many speak rapid fire responses without thought and with no tact whatsoever.  You remember tact?  It was when we tried to say things with gentleness and caring touches.  That has vanished in our world today.  Today, we not only have opinions we also have the gall to judge others for how they live.  I am not saying that we do not warn, but we need to add texture to or cushion the warnings with compassion if we want to get our message across.  To warn and correct is okay, but we need to stay away from judgment of one’s sins.  Let me first say that there is only one judge and He is mighty in power.  Let Him judge and let us love.  Let me expound further on this statement.

In Matthew 7:1 we are told not to judge someone based on their sins, yet that seems to be the first step people jump to right out of the gate and it comes off condescending and pushes the lost person further away.  I believe we should follow the advice of Romans 14:13 when we are told to examine ourselves so that we do not cause someone else to stumble.  It is easy to point out the sins of others, but so hard for us to look at our own.  We need to follow the same rules for ourselves.  Look inward first to see the sin in your own life before addressing the sin in others.  Finally, in Romans 2:1 we see the consequences of our actions when we do judge others based on their sin and neglect to see what we are doing ourselves.

“Judge not, that ye not be judged.”

“Let us not therefore judge each other anymore, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

The remedy is for us to be loving and show compassion as we have been shown in Isaiah 39:13, Psalm 51:1 and taught by Christ in Colossians 3:12 and Philippians 2:1-2.

“Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His inflicted.”

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”   

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and longsuffering.”

 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

So, what is my take on this today?  In the wise words of Vanilla Ice:  We must “Stop!  Collaborate and Listen.” Then turn to 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and see how we are to behave.

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

We must live out love and continue to do His work daily.  Pitfalls occur and tempt us, but do not give in to them or set out to destroy someone else.  Confess all your anger, conflict, jealousies, tendencies to gossip or lie, repent and then surrender it all to Jesus.  We are to help one another not hinder them.  Be the one who steps up by standing out and defending those being mistreated, persecuted and left alone.  He gave us these instructions for a reason.  He is our reason for living and shouldn’t we honor Him by being faithful to His commands?  Think first, cool down, and we should speak only when needed, not always when we desire to.  Take care and God Bless!