There is a very prevalent problem in our culture today that truly seems to be just as bad, if not worse in some ways, within the church. A problem right here in this church on a very regular basis, and it desperately needs to change.
This week I read a number of secular articles, on social and psychology websites, that all repeat the same trend in this country: depression is significantly on the increase in our society, Impacting young and old, and affecting a significant percentage of the population, especially increasing in youth, 12 and older. How many people in this room know someone who is depressed? Maybe even suicidal? Who has a terrible self-esteem, no self-worth? Who has a bad home life, or no home life at all? Who never seems to have a truly happy moment? Now let me ask you this: How many people around you, do you think may have these problems and they hide it beautifully, just to fit in? Now, because I love you, let me ask you this: If you know this, if you will admit to this, why have many of you joined in the seemingly growing trend of people who, with their attitude and words seem to do nothing but hurt, belittle, disrespect, devalue, cut-down, and embarrass those around them in an almost habitual way of life?? There are a number of people right here in this room, and I am sure in our listening audience who are so focused on self, without realizing it, that you rarely speak without sarcasm, or without pointing out another's faults, or without condescendingly trying to prove your superior wit and intelligence. And, I want to plead with you in saying, what part of this worldly nature can possibly express the selfless love and care we are supposed to have for our brothers and sisters, as we walk in the Fruit of the Spirit? And yet I see it in conversations and actions throughout this church, even in the simplest and casual of times, attitudes and words of constant ridicule or displeasure.
Repeat this with me, "Mamma always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!” If this is you, do you have any clue, as to how much the world's attitude has affected you? As to how you are being used by Satan joyfully, to slowly tear people down spiritually and emotionally? And you are cultivating a heart within, that will never hear from, or be used of God, because your every thought is tainted?
James 3:3-12: James had the Christian Church pegged over 2000 years ago. So many of us claim to have such love and concern for others, and yet our tongues show truth. Some in this room use criticism as your main method of communication with others, and you are secretly hurting and driving away every friend around you. You are adding to the sorrow and brokenness of already crushed souls. Some are destroying the self-esteem of your spouse, and breaking the spirit of your children, causing depression and bitterness, instead of growth and acceptance. Causing strife and division continually, instead of harmony and joy. Even when there is no criticism, many of us refuse to ever give a good or encouraging word—which can be just as hurtful and destructive—because you feel a good word, or compliment is not to be given unless earned, or rewarded. This is sad hogwash, that misses the entire point of encouragement: Hebrews 10:24-25. Do you see the purpose in this verse for encouraging? To stir up love and good works. Read to the very definition of encouragement. We must encourage before good is done, or when someone has done it wrong to give the strength and spirit to succeed or recover, to show their self-worth and giftedness in Christ when they don't realize or express it; to show they have to prove NOTHING, for us to love and accept them right where they are now, or they may never feel the acceptance and strength to do better. You all have people in your life that look to you for their encouragement and strength. Do you come through for them in love? Or, do you leave them worried, deflated, unsure, even add to the uncertainty with your critical attitude? Physical abuse is often less destructive, brings less death to a person's soul than criticism and apathy from a loved one.
We as Christians, are directly called of God to be different, so, I don't ever want to hear from one more person that it is just their personality, or especially, their gift from God, that makes them that way. I have the Gift of Exhortation, but does that mean that I am not still responsible to confront sin, and lovingly correct a brother in trouble? No. In the same way, a person with the Gift of Prophecy, or Leadership is not free to attack, criticize, and belittle all under the flag of their gift and responsibility. If God is truly free to work in your heart, then all Christians, regardless of personality and gifts, will have a real desire, and responsibility, to not only correct, but to encourage others towards doing better in love. Galatians 6:1-3; Hebrews 3:13; Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:29-32. This Scripture says corrupt words and evil speaking are major reasons for grieving the very Spirit of God Who lives inside of us. Our attitude and our words towards others. So many people are broken and disheartened in their lives, that often times even a complete stranger or casual acquaintance will be deeply touched by a few simple words of encouragement because they rarely hear them from those in their lives. And commonly, that person in need of a good word, is the very person with such a terrible attitude themselves (hiding doubt, pain, bitterness) that many would not take the time to encourage them.
If you are realizing maybe you are one of these people who tear down much more than you build up or encourage others—in big and offensive ways, or in simple, almost charismatic ways—chalking it up to humor or picking—stop for a moment and ask yourself "Why" you may be that way.
We are supposed to be all about showing God’s love—about healing and accepting—we are called to be different. Criticism, sarcasm, condescension, belittling have no place in the Christian life.
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