Shouting, yelling, and arguing is everywhere. It permeates what we read and write. Sometimes I think it is the primary purpose of social media.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
James 3:4–6 (ESV)
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God
James 1:19–20 (ESV)
Disagreement is nothing new. People have always disagreed. We disagree with people who are similar and people who are different. We disagree with those near us as well as those who are far away. We should not be surprised nor indignant every time we meet with disagreement. Conflict is inevitable. How, then are we to understand conflict? Is it unChristian? We know we will disagree on a wide variety of issues with those who are not Christ-followers, but what about believers? Can we disagree? If so, on what and how? These are questions for consideration, but I am want to address something other than the subject over which we disagree. How are we to behave when we disagree? This is somewhat of a rhetorical question because we know we should behave well, but most of use find it challenging to do so.
As Christians, our behavior should always reflect Christ. To be Christlike is to be transformed. We operate out of the presence of the Holy Spirit. His word reminds us to grow into spiritual maturity. We are to have His attitude. We are all entitled to an opinion, but not to our anger and contempt. How many things warrant the level of animosity common in current culture. Where does outrage get us anyway? Is it a productive mechanism for discourse and change? I think we know we understand this principle, but often indignation is our first response. We are to become spiritually mature and skilled in our ability to carry out kind, coherent discussion about controversial subjects. It is not an opportunity to do damage with our words.
1 If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:1–4 (CSB)
What we all need is a little kindness. We are lost, brokenhearted, and hurting. We are trying to find a way forward. A little kindness will help us carry each other’s load. This becomes difficult when we are in conflict with others. The conflict precipitates animosity, but isn’t it the absence of kindness that has made our present public and private discourse so damaging. We are all human and we share a common experience. We all are searching for peace, contentment, and human flourishing. We want life to be different and we are struggling. A little kindness could go a long way right now.
How about you? Do you need to repent of a bad attitude? Do you need to take a break from social media until you can separate your emotions from the controversies? Do you need to unfollow some group or person? The Holy Spirit will produce kindness in you if you will let Him.