ISSUES OF FAITH: Guard against ridicule; instead, season conversation with salt

AFTER READING A news article yesterday on the MSN home page, I scrolled to the bottom of the page to read some of the comments.

I was surprised to read: “MSN has temporarily removed commenting on our websites while we explore better ways to engage in discussions you care about.”

Thank you, MSN. I don’t know how you will attempt to solve this problem, but I applaud your exploration.

The problem that has raised its ugly head on websites and social media is the unfiltered ability for people to ridicule anyone and anything at anytime.

Are there ever any positive, affirming, uplifting comments? Yes, but, in my opinion, they are a minority, and apparently MSN agrees.

Ridicule has become vogue, and not just online. You can hear and watch ridicule on television. You can read it in magazines and newspapers.

You hear it from politicians and political pundits. Comedians think ridicule is funny, and people respond with laughter.

Ridicule reaches into homes, the workplace and even into churches. And if you listen to me long enough, you’ll catch me ridiculing. It’s a people problem.

Ridicule can be defined as dismissing the importance or quality of somebody or something in a contemptuous, cruel or harsh way.

Biblically, there is no justification for ridicule. None. Nada. Zip.

Disagreement? Yes. Debate? Yes. But ridicule? Absolutely not.

As Christians, we can expect to be ridiculed. That’s biblical.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV). Expect some ridicule, but don’t retaliate with the same.

James tells us that “with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

Praise and ridicule coming from the same mouth is also a mismatch. Ephesians 4:29, 31 and 32 say: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen … .

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ridicule is a form of malice, and it does not build others up; it tears them down.

Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Grace, not ridicule. Salt, not pepper.

As Christians, the Bible tells us to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Ridicule makes poor clothing.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am sometimes guilty of ridiculing. Please forgive me, and please help me.

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalms 141:3).

Set another guard over my fingertips that might be tempted to ridicule online.

And please help MSN discover a better way for people to engage in discussions we care about.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is jbc@joycebiblechurch.org.

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