“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
When did our society become so uncivil toward one another? People say and do the most incredulous things that we never would have said and done in past generations.
This morning, I was going through my Facebook feed and saw a little girl no more than seven years old tell the President of the United States, “You are a disgrace to the world.” When did it become okay for a child to disrespect an elder like that? When did parents start enabling their children to badmouth another person? What exactly do you think you’re teaching these kids other than it’s okay to devalue another person if you don’t like them, their politics, their gender, their race, or anything else that is different from you? And you wonder why kids are bullying each other and shooting up their schools.
Our society has lost its basic civility because we no longer follow God and His commands.
Here is what God commands us to do when it comes to others in case you’ve forgotten:
- Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31)
- Consider others better than yourself and put their needs ahead of yours (Philippians 2:3-5)
- Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Do not judge others (Matthew 7:2)
- Forgive others (Matthew 6:15)
- Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought (Romans 12:3b)
- Humble yourselves (1 Peter 5:6-7)
- Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2-3)
- Do unto others as you would have them to unto you (Matthew 7:12)
- Do nothing out of selfishness or conceit (Philippians 2:3)
- Show proper respect to everyone (1 Peter 2:17)
- Live in peace with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
- Turn the other cheek when insulted (Matthew 5:39)
- Do not seek revenge (Romans 12:19)
- Love one another (John 13:35)
James warns us in chapter 3 that with the same tongue we bless God and we curse our fellow man. What a travesty!
Jesus told us plainly in Matthew 5:22, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
So, why has our country become so uncivilized? I think there are lots of reasons. First, people are falling away from scripture and their belief in God in favor of moral relativism. In other words, when my truth is just as valid as your truth instead of there being an absolute truth we both follow, conflict is inevitable.
Identity politics also separates us into warring factions where it becomes okay to demonize the other side which stands opposed to or even not supportive of your viewpoint. And believe me, identity politics doesn’t just happen in secular society, it happens in the church between denominations and even within denominations!
Yet another reason I see is lack of accountability. Simply put, people are not holding one another accountable for what they say and do. People lie, cheat, steal, badmouth, degrade, demonize, bully and more yet our society has become so desensitized to it we all just shrug and move on. There is no consequence any longer for bad behavior. Instead of holding someone accountable, we find ways to either make excuses for the behavior or shift the blame away from the person. Without accountability, all is permissible.
The last one I’ll mention is this: Christians are not walking the walk. For those of us still left in the faith, we have been a poor example of Christ’s teachings. While there are many who call themselves “Christian” there are few who are actually disciples trying to do as Jesus did by living their lives in a way that cuts against the culture. You see just as many professed Christians engaging in this uncivil nonsense as non-believers. If you’re a Christian and you’re calling people stupid, idiots, Hitler, and all the rest you’re doing it wrong and you are part of the problem!
Look, I get it. We all get fired up about something. There are things I see every day that make me want to launch into some political diatribe to show how wrong the other person is. I’ll see something and think, “Man, is that the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen!” But as Christians we have to practice a couple of disciplines known as discernment and restraint. We represent Jesus Christ Himself! Every action we take as a believer reflects directly on who Jesus is! When you call someone an idiot on Facebook how does that make Jesus look to that person?
Here’s the sad part – it’s going to get worse. Scripture tells us that as we move toward end times society will decline, which means we Christians need to redouble our efforts to show Jesus for who He is in our thoughts, words, and actions! Like you, I see a whole bunch of stuff out there with which I disagree and would love to hammer to show how silly it really is. But here is what I have committed to do to the best of my ability instead:
- Hold my tongue
- Defend those who cannot defend themselves
- Not give value to worldly things
- Represent Jesus as He would have me do
- Trust that Jesus’ justice is better than anything I could come up with
I want to encourage you not to disengage – the world needs to hear our Christian voice. But do so in a way that shows Jesus for who He is instead of showing you for who you are. Yes, that means holding your nose sometimes and swallowing hard by not taking the bait and responding as you’d like. In everything you do ask this one simple question: Is what I’m about to say or do glorifying Jesus?