Words by Al Blanton
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32
I recently joined a Facebook group of sports fanatics. The group’s purpose is to share old pictures and stories of the bygone era of sports and to stir up a sense of nostalgia in the process. As with any avid fan who lived through these eras, emotions can range from profound sadness to side-splitting laughter.
Unfortunately, there is a vicious undercurrent on this page that tolerates no missteps or ignorance. Quickly, a seemingly innocuous comment can rise to the level of asinine, and an opinion that has merit will be dismissed as laughable.
In short, if you post on this page, you better have thick skin.
Social media has created a societal dynamic in which information exchange has become quite impersonal. Because we speak through avatars – online profiles that we present to the world as representative of ourselves – we tend to forget that there is a real, flesh-and-blood person behind that façade. This, coupled with the frequent geographical distance between two commenters, often facilitates unkindness, malice, and downright meanness.
Have we ever stopped for a moment and thought about the way we talk to one another?
I believe this meanness is indicative of a much deeper issue. Words typed on a screen or spoken aloud are often an outflow of what’s going on in a person’s heart.
Consider Jesus’s words from Matthew 12: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (vs. 34b, 35).
What is the condition of your heart? Is it black and charred with anger, bitterness, resentment, fear, or pain? Or is it red and healthy, overflowing with the love, grace, mercy, patience, and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ?
If we allow Jesus to do restorative work in our hearts, our outflow of negativity becomes less and less, and our view of others shifts from impersonal to personal. In other words, we see the inherent worth and value of others because Jesus sees the inherent worth and value of every soul that graces this planet, whether we like them or not. We also begin to see eternal ramifications in our encounters, such that the love of Jesus and the possibility of heaven intersects with our seemingly mundane day-to-day activities.
We should ask ourselves, “What kind of fruit are we producing?” Galatians 5 outlines the acts of the flesh (hatred, discord, witchcraft, fits of rage, dissension, etc.) versus the fruit of the spirit, which includes kindness.
Let’s make kindness great again. Let’s examine how we speak to one another and pause before we type out a vicious remark and hit the <enter> key. Let’s allow the fruit of compassion and empathy to rule in our hearts.
Let’s allow Jesus to come in and do his restorative work.
Our hearts desperately need it. WL