Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"In her tongue is the law of kindness..." Proverbs 31: 26



It seems, in this day of social media, that even the most basic manners have been left by the wayside. 

There are time worn phrases, that are time worn for a reason - they are good advice on dealing with our fellowman politely.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

In the age of Facebook, this has eroded into: If you can't say something nice, add a picture and say it louder. It's so easy, from the comfort and anonymity of our own home and keyboard, to throw in an opinion on any given subject, without necessarily thinking about what we say as much as we would if we were face to face with the person we were saying it to. I've been guilty of this a time or two, I think we all have.  I've striven to do better - to really think before I type - because I don't like the discontent and hard feelings it can cause.

Yesterday, reading a post from my much loved cousin, I was surprised and disappointed to hear her and her friends badmouthing other mothers because of their choice of car-seat for their children. One woman, in the comments, even went so far as to call all mothers in the United Kingdom bad parents because they don't use the same sort of car-seat our government has required. Her words were harsh, in all capital letters, disclaiming that they were neglectful, shouldn't have children if they weren't going to take better care of them, and were not living as God wanted them to - all because of a car-seat! (One, I might add, that is perfectly legal in Britain.)

I was offended on behalf of every other mother, and I said so. Part of my comment was this:

"We should be supporting each other in loving ways, not bickering, name calling, and criticizing. We don't have to agree with everything everyone else does - but the Lord expects us to think, speak and act kindly toward others. Perhaps instead of glaring at others with anger because of a stupid carseat, you should be looking inside and asking yourself - is this what the Lord wants me to worry about, or is there something more Christlike I could do with my time?"

The scriptures have a lot to say about being kind, and careful of how we speak to each other. (italics and bold added for emphasis.)

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. (Colossians 3)

and

 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3)

...and perhaps the most well known of all, where the word charity is sometimes translated as love:

 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 8 Charity never faileth:  ( 1st Corinthians 13)

What's remarkable about this is that just before this passage, Paul says (in verse 2):

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

That says a lot about kindness and love, doesn't it - even if you have enough faith to move mountains, if you can't treat others with charity, your faith comes to nothing.

So lets not forget today what the Lord's prophets have said. Even on the internet, in this muddled old world of ours - we can still follow their words and speak (or type, as the case may be) with kindness and patience.