Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Facing the meanie in me

MUCH AS I hate to admit it, I have a bit of a mean streak in me. I like to present an affable face to the world, but sometimes I can think unkind things about people.

Typically, I don’t share what’s going on inside. Some might consider that to be hypocrisy, but I hope that it’s more of a stab—if a meager one—at holiness. It seems to me that voicing or writing those nasty thoughts somehow makes them more concrete, and therefore gives them more power.

Didn’t Jesus that “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matt. 24:35)? So silence may not be insincerity but insulation—protecting others (and myself, maybe). Indeed, Jesus’s brother warned that the tongue is “a fire . . . an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

I see that quite often in some posts by Facebook friends. Their comments on political or religious topics can be downright nasty. I can’t help wondering the impression their intemperate words give of Christians. Maybe their feeds are set to “friends only,” rather than public, but even so they are not letting their “reasonableness be known to everyone” (Phil. 4:5).

However, the point is not simply not to say all that’s buzzing through your head. That’s just the first step. Silence is only gold plating; what’s below the surface is worthless and needs to be junked. We don’t just stuff down that ugliness, we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, we shouldn’t simply stifle it, we should suffocate it.

Authenticity and transparency are noble qualities, but they don’t mean you have to spill everything that’s going on inside. That’s immodesty. Maybe even arrogance. After all, does everyone need to know your opinion on everything?

Having said that, there is a place for admitting fallen thinking; after all, confession is good for the soul. Letting good friends know where you struggle with envy, resentment, unforgiveness, and so forth gives them the opportunity to pray for you and offer accountability as you seek to become more Jesus-like.

I have some folks like that I can be open with, none more so than my wife. I’ll tell her my unkindest thoughts because I know she’s wise and loving enough not to be swayed by my negativity. And, accepting enough to know that it’s not who I really want to be. In that context of admission, speaking those words weakens rather than strengthens their sting.

Photo by RebeccaBarray on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA

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