If you don't have anything nice to say-don't say anything at all.
How many times has your mother said that to you? Just the other night I was having a discussion with my girls about etiquette. I told them that a general rule of thumb (for which they giggled and giggled at the idea of a thumb ruling) was that if a comment about someones appearance was edging it's way out, evaluate it to see if it is something positive or negative. If it's negative, smash it down and smile and say something positive.
These days, with Facebook and other social media, our thoughts can be broadcast within seconds to over 300 people. What one or two people might have normally heard becomes an announcement for the masses. What we say, and how we say it are locked into cyberspace forever. Over the last few years, I have learned much about what to say and what not to say. Oh, I am not perfect (anyone that knows me knows that) but I have learned some important lessons.
I want to share this with you all, and I want you to know that I am not condemning anyone, I am simply sharing what God has taught me. (I dream of a world where we can do that and no one gets offended--maybe in the millennium...)
I believe that for Christians, our words should be dripping with love. Why? Because God has poured out His love on us. We are really no more deserving than anyone else to receive His favor. I remember telling my daughter that God loves Osama Bin Laden-even if Osama never returned His love. God loved Jeffery Daumer (I didn't tell them about him!!) Even if Jeffery Daumer never returned that love. The truth is, in order to love one another, we need to get over the idea that these people were or any worse than us in the eyes of God. When we realize the depths of our own sin, and what Jesus did to redeem us from that~THAT is when we can begin loving others. We don't deserve to be loved. Period. But we are. Praise God!
This is not a dissertation on whether or not one sin is greater than another. That's a deep subject and I am not going there. The point is simply this: before we trust Christ, we simply cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6)~every bit of righteousness is compared to a pile of filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Then along comes this beautiful Savior and we learn, much to our relief, that our pile of filthy rags don't matter because it's not about that. It is about His sparkling white robe that He graciously clothes us with. It's about grace. It's about being loved when we are unlovable. It, in return makes us want to love the unlovable~simply so that they can see the grace that Christ extends to us.
There are ideologies that are bad. I believe that Osama had bad ideologies. If fact, I believe that our own president has some bad ideologies. Is it okay to discuss the difference in ideologies? Okay~and essential for preserving what we have fought for in America. But underneath those ideologies lie souls. Eternal souls that have been wounded by sin. Just like me. And you.
We are adept at using the grace card when we want to do something that we think God might not approve of. "It's not about what I do!" we exclaim. "It's all about grace-so don't judge me!" But when we are quick to exclaim what others deserve we unwittingly make it about works instead of grace. Bin Laden deserves to rot in hell.....hmmmm..
...so do I.....
But I won't. How amazing. How utterly amazing.
So, for what it might be worth to you, if I have ever been unloving to you I humbly seek your forgiveness. And if you ever see me forget and start ranting about a person (not an ideology) then I expect you to let me know. Remind me. It's okay. I am human and I forget. But we are here to hold each other up. To exhort one another to righteousness.
I love you!