Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Tongue of Civility and Free Speech

     We are hearing voices from many places telling us our speech needs to become more civil.  We need to stop the vitriolic diatribes that have become much too commonplace in our society.  While speaking out against certain groups of people may lead one to be charged with a crime of hate speech, the Supreme Court recently ruled the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church don't violate the free speech amendment of the Constitution.  It is lawful according to man's law, but is evil according to God's word.
     So as days go by the lack of civility grows and hatred grows deeper in the hearts and minds of people.  If there is to be an answer where does one go to find it?  I would suggest, and rather strongly, that we go back to the supreme example of life.  This brings us directly into contact with Jesus and His word.  What Jesus taught in His earthly ministry applies to all mankind.  The reason there is so much hatred in the words people speak is because the church has not continued to apply the teachings of Jesus in their life.
     What must first be understood is there is to be no compromising of the truth.  Jesus never did this and does not expect us to.  We must also understand Jesus did not have to say something Himself in order for the teaching to be from Jesus.  If we hold the Scriptures to be the word of God, then all of Scripture is embodied in the teachings of Jesus.  Whether it be recorded in the gospel or the other New Testament writings, what is there is God breathed.  If God speaks to us through the word, and that word is Jesus (Heb. 1:1,2; Jn. 1:1,14) then we acknowledge the divine authority of all Scripture.
     Jesus said, "But let your statement be Yes,yes, or No, no; and anything beyond this is evil." (Mt. 5:37) Jesus simply tells us to mean what we say and stand on your words.  It used to be said a man's word was his bond.  If he said it he meant it and did it.  Such we should be today.  If we are to be people of love, we can speak truth without the destructive words that hurt people instead of building them up. (Col. 4:6 Eph. 4:31)  As much as we like to share as Christians, gossip is still a sin.
     We all have studied much about the tongue and James is very clear as to how we are to conduct ourself in the house of God. (James 3)  If we want society to improve its speech habits we need to start in the church.  We need to show people how important God's word is in its teachings of everyday life as well as salvation.  Since you can't teach about God in schools, the home becomes the place where real teaching needs to take place.
     Jesus was able to turn the hearts of people to God and he did this in a loving way.  He had His moments of anger and still did not sin.  What we need to learn is how to communicate in godly ways.  Do not be afraid to stand for truth, and proclaim that truth in love.  As a mirror image of Jesus we can still allow God's word to reveal its truth if we are willing to abide by it ourselves.  Free speech is not the issue.  The problem lies in the heart of man and what he thinks of others.  When we see them as God's creation we will address them as such and so fulfill the law of love.  That is what Jesus would do.   Rodger

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