apostasy, biblical scholarship, Body of Christ, bullies, bullying, christianity, church, criticism, cyber-bullies, cyber-bullying, emotional abuse, false doctrine, forgiveness, fruit of the Spirit, God's Word, grace, hate speech, heresies, Internet trolls, Jesus Christ, judging others, loving others, moral failures, redemption, religion, restoration, theology, verbal abuse, works of the flesh
One of the major negative phenomena which has occurred since the inception of the Worldwide Web is that of the “Internet troll.”
For those of you unfamiliar with this particular item of techno-jargon, a troll is a cyber-bully, a person who gleefully and/or angrily comments on various articles and discussions on all sorts of websites in the most abusive and judgmental way possible, rejoicing in and deriving some sort of twisted satisfaction from another person’s calamity — whether self-inflicted, justified, or otherwise — exploiting their pain, their mistakes, or their perceived faults and weaknesses in the most vile terms possible. Frequently, they operate in gangs of anywhere from 2-6, sometimes more, as they repeatedly converge on the pet peeves that unite them.
When contradicted by someone having the temerity to either counter their viewpoint or call them into account for their abusiveness, they turn on that person and start bullying them as well. At such times, things can get really, really ugly really, really fast, especially if the web forum or Facebook page has a bad or spineless moderator who cannot or will not exercise his/her authority to delete abusive posts or — in extreme cases — outright ban the abusers from the current discussion as well as all future ones.
If you have not experienced being a victim of these cyber-thugs, you probably haven’t commented very much on controversial topics such as politics or religion in public forums nor you are a public figure. If you have or are, you were most likely shocked and appalled by the hatred, anger, and spite such folks are capable of. If you watched the Fall 2014 season of Dancing With The Stars, you might recall how the winner, Rumer Willis (sadly, no relation to me 🙂 ), testified how she and her sisters were tormented and emotionally devastated by social media trolls who repeatedly called them “ugly” and far, far worse as they grew up in the media spotlight shone on their celebrity parents, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
Tragically, there exists a sub-species of these trolls who publicly proclaim themselves to be Christians, yet they pass the same kinds of harsh judgments and caustic criticisms on others while evidencing not one fruit of the Spirit and not one shred of 1 Corinthians 13 in the process. Imagine Westboro Baptist in cyberspace and you will have an accurate picture of them. They are deluded into thinking that their hostility and vitriol will somehow bring about change in either those they attack or those who are listening and then justify their horrific behavior with misinterpretations of Scripture. When their behavior is pointed out as unscriptural, no matter how gently, they attack the messenger, whining that they are being judged by another human, rather than being convicted of the Holy Spirit.
If it wasn’t for their freely misquoted and frequently misinterpreted Scripture verses, you would never be able to distinguish them from their unsaved counterparts. The far greater tragedy here is that, if an unsaved person takes even a cursory glance at the quality of discourse taking place concerning Jesus and His teachings, they are totally repelled by the hatred and divisiveness they see.
Echoing the words of the Apostle James: My brethren, these things ought not to be so!
As many of you have read here on Miscellaneous Ramblings, I was a victim of bullying throughout my childhood and adolescence, first by teachers and school administrators and then also by my peers, so I have a very low tolerance for that kind of behavior. Predictably, as a former victim, I was also something of a troll myself for a time until I was confronted with how ungodly it was, what a bad example I was setting, and how it totally undermined my credibility as a minister. Thankfully, God has spoken to me over time by the Holy Spirit and His quite capable assistant, my loving wife Tess, to help me bring my temper under control when speaking to issues I am passionate about as well as dealing with those who persist in their trolling. Truth be told, it still requires a ton of God’s grace for me to not respond in kind to people who are viciously attacking me, and, at times, even my wife who was not even present during the discussion.
So the remainder of this article will be spent on discussing this blight on both the Internet and the Body of Christ, how, in my humble opinion, it has come to exist, and how might be resolved.
Many of these so-called “Christian trolls” have their shark-like feeding frenzies around articles/posts featuring or authored by controversial Christian leaders, televangelists, celebrities, churches, ministry organizations, and/or their moral failures and/or their doctrinal “errors.” I’ve seen feeding frenzies on the likes of Joel Osteen, Mark Driscoll of the late Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Bethel Church in Redding, CA, various televangelists, gay marriage (both pro and con), and the doctrines of divine healing and prosperity, just to name a few (please note that I am neither expressing approval nor disapproval on any of these issues. My views concerning these topics are outside the scope of this article and reserved for other discussions; two of them, divine healing and divine prosperity, I’ve already covered in great depth here at Miscellaneous Ramblings). Find any article on these or other hot news items affecting the Body of Christ and you will find the trolls in action.
Another of the frequent earmarks of such folks, besides their viciousness and hateful words, is that it seems they have absorbed just enough of the Scriptures to be dangerous. Almost all of them exhibit a very shallow and cursory understanding of both the Word and character of God. They quote various Scripture verses with little regard to context or any other standard of proper exegesis. Most of the time, their simplistic interpretations seem to be based on a hazy grasp of their various church traditions as well as their own personal opinions, rather on a sound study of the Word.
It also evident they are squarely in the “truth without grace” camp, clearly having little, if any, revelation of and experience with God’s grace and the balance He maintains between the grace and truth. They’ve got the concept of “speaking the truth” down cold, but have left off the crucial clause “in love” from the equation (Ephesians 4:15).
A favorite excuse of theirs is misquoting Jesus’ attacks on the Pharisees or citing His driving the moneychangers from the temple with a whip. None of us are qualified by calling or commandment to imitate Him in that act, whether physically or verbally, because our perceptions, insights, and judgments are too flawed and corrupt to be reliable because of our flesh, whereas His perceptions, insights, and judgements were and are perfect because He was and is without sin. It takes a huge amount of arrogance to presume oneself at His level of accuracy!
Another such justification comes in the form of claiming that they are protecting the unsaved and scripturally ignorant from the so-called “false doctrines” or “apostate” teachers/movements they are attacking, whereas the tragic reality is that what they are saying and doing is protecting the lost from Christianity itself by totally negating their witness! It’s no wonder that the world claims the Church is full of hypocrites — by the Bible’s own definitions, they’re actually quite correct!
The Wisdom From Above
In the Epistle of James, we are given principles by which we should speak and a yardstick to determine the source of what is being said by ourselves and others:
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. — James 3 (emphasis mine)
Let’s read those last 5 verses in couple of other translations, first the Amplified Version, then Young’s Literal Translation (the same Young who authored Young’s Concordance):
But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. — James 3:14-18 AMP
and if bitter zeal ye have, and rivalry in your heart, glory not, nor lie against the truth; this wisdom is not descending from above, but earthly, physical, demon-like, for where zeal and rivalry are, there is insurrection and every evil matter; and the wisdom from above, first, indeed, is pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, full of kindness and good fruits, uncontentious, and unhypocritical: — and the fruit of the righteousness in peace is sown to those making peace. — James 3:14-18 YLT
While the entire chapter is applicable to this discussion, the following sentence is the key verse to the point I am trying to make here: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
This is our yardstick given us to evaluate our own words and those of others. Anything else is “earthly, sensual, demonic” and brings confusion and every other evil thing into existence.
Based upon what we have just read, I think I’m on pretty safe scriptural ground in what I’m about to say next: cyber-bullying is sin.
Judging Fellow Believers
I’ve covered judging non-believers in another article here at Miscellaneous Ramblings, so I’ll save some space and let you read more about this topic there. Here, we will tackle us judging other members of Christ’s Body.
We have some pretty clear NT commandments concerning judging others, twice from the mouth of Jesus Himself, the other from the Apostle Paul:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:1-5
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye. For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? — Luke 6:36-38
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? — Romans 2:1-4
I think I’m fairly safe in saying that Jesus probably preached that “speck and plank” sermon on many more occasions than just the two recorded in the Gospels. Why? Because our sin nature makes us humans so judgmental! We feel so badly about ourselves and our behavior, yet that same innate selfishness blinds us to the lie we are believing whenever we judge: if we can expose others’ faults for all to see, we shift focus off ourselves and our own epic fails to those we are flaying alive with our words.
Here’s the problem with that: while you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, eventually God ensures that all bystanders see what He sees: that we are hypocrites who are ultimately fooling only ourselves. And According to Luke 6:38, those words will come back to us “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!”
Our problem is that God — the only Person who knows the hearts and minds of each and every human being on this planet — jealously guards His prerogative to be the Sole Judge of Mankind. Why? Because we only see the outward appearance while neither having a clue of where another person’s journey towards redemption has taken him/her nor what that person has experienced along the way.
A video advertisement from Thailand recently posted on Facebook caught my eye and heart, as well as the hearts of many, and presents this concept perfectly. Here it is and I pray that you watch it in its entirety:
From my perspective, the modern-day Body of Christ is suffering from a massive auto-immune disease called “judgment” where a bunch of cells and organs are attacking the others, especially the sick and damaged ones. And as Jesus said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” We are so busy hacking away at one another that our true enemy is completely ignored, which is precisely his plan and purpose.
There is an alternate interpretation of Romans 2:1 where it says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” When reading this verse, we all tend to immediately jump to the concept of hypocrisy and stop there. That this verse is addressing hypocrisy is indeed an accurate interpretation, but there is another way to look at this verse. It’s this: whenever we judge others for a given sin, we bind that sin to us spiritually and we are doomed to practice it until/unless we repent.
I have personally seen three excellent examples of this principle in action.
- The first is a lady I worked with at an ad agency back in the mid-1980s. She was a hopeless chain smoker who always had one in her hand, one in her mouth, and another on an ashtray, if you will pardon my exaggeration. One day, we had occasion to drive together someplace within Tulsa; I seem to remember it was en route to our company founder’s funeral. She knew I was a non-smoker and asked if should could light up as she drove. I responded that it was her car, but that cigarette smoke gives me an instant headache and I would prefer that she didn’t. She obliged me, but then launched into her history with cigarettes. It turns out that earlier in her life, she was a rabid anti-smoker and would get hatefully in people’s faces and chew them out for their smoking. Somehow, one day, she found herself lighting up the very thing she detested and nicotine had had her in its death-grip ever since. We have lost touch over the years, so I have no idea as to her current situation or health.
- My second example is the televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. His was the second of the two major scandals to hit the American church scene during the late 1980s, the other being Jim Baker and PTL. Swaggart had spent a huge amount of pulpit- and air-time judging and condemning others for their sins and whatever aspects of their lifestyles he didn’t happen to approve of, such as visiting amusement parks, going to movies, as well as a host of other legalistic, Pentecostal Holiness kinds of rules. He even told people they would end up in hell for going to Disneyland! Then one day, he fell into the trap of hotel room pornography and got consumed by it, consumed to the point where he started hiring prostitutes to perform sex acts in front of him, ostensibly without participating personally (yeah, right! — and Bill Clinton never inhaled, either! Color me a bit skeptical, but that’s entirely beside the point I’m trying to make here). Regardless, he and his ministry have never recovered the stature they once enjoyed.
- The final example is the host of alcoholics and addicts who are children of alcoholics and addicts. A vast majority of them had judged their addicted parents for the bondage they found themselves in and, despite their vows to never be like their parents, ended up being addicted themselves. This is why one of the major tasks of addiction recovery is to specifically list the incidents of abuse we have suffered, who were the perpetrators of that abuse, and then forgive them individually by name (more on this later). While there are certainly other factors than this single one in play in such cases, this one is a biggie.
In each case, their condemnation opened the doors for Satan to put them into bondage to the selfsame sins for which they were condemning other folks!
Now, I’ll leave you with this final Scripture quote on the topic:
Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. — Romans 14:4 (emphasis mine)
There is one tidbit I would like to cover on this topic before we move on to others. In Revelation 12:10, the Bible refers to Satan as “the accuser of our brethren.” So if someone is leveling accusations against us here on Earth, whose spirit do you think they’re most likely operating in?
Bottom line? It is NEVER safe to judge others!
The Power of Our Words
This topic actually deserves an article of its own, though I’ve touched on it briefly when I taught about prayer and speaking to mountains and confessing God’s Truth over ourselves as a tool for addiction recovery. We’ve already seen from the above-cited quote in Luke that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” a concept also echoed in Matthew 12. Let’s see what else God has to say about our words:
First, we need to be less quick on the trigger to respond to discussions/topics we don’t like:
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. — Proverbs 10:19
Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. — Proverbs 29:20
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; — James 1:19
And keep the discourse courteous and civil:
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. — Proverbs 16:24
It is entirely possible to disagree pleasantly. When people read/hear our words, the Holy Spirit should bear witness to the truth we are proclaiming, and He cannot do so when we are being contentious and hostile.
He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. — Proverbs 16:24
It’s been said, “whoever loses his temper has just lost the argument.” It is obvious to all concerned that those who operate with a spirit of hostility are irrational and their opinions cannot be trusted, whereas those who respond calmly and reasonably can be. The unfortunate part of this is that the calm person could be totally in the wrong and the angry person be absolutely right and truthful, but those listening will not see that because of how the debaters are acting respectively.
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. — Matthew 12:36-37
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. — Galatians 6:7-8
Our words are so important to God that He holds us accountable for them, in both this life and at the Judgment Seat. There’s an old aphorism that goes, “Let your words be sweet, lest tomorrow you have to eat them.” I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve lost my temper, shot off my mouth, and dearly paid for it in this life! We need to ensure that the words we speak are good seed so that we will reap a harvest of life, rather than death and corruption.
Works of the Flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. — Galatians 5:19-23 (emphases mine)
Most of us read the list of fleshly works and home in on what we think are the biggies: adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, heresies, murders, drunkenness, etc. while blowing right past the terms I have bold-faced, terms which are at the same level of priority within the passage: contentions, outbursts of wrath, and dissensions. All of these behaviors, interestingly enough, have to do with our previous topic in this discussion: words.
So let’s take a quick look at the Greek words from which these terms are translated:
- contentions (eris)
- contention, strife, wrangling
This term is self-explanatory and is exactly what it sounds like: hostile argumentation. Interestingly, the English word “wrangle” means “a dispute or argument, typically one that is long and complicated.”
- outbursts (zelos)
- the fierceness of indignation; punitive zeal
- wrath (thumos)
- passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again
Zelos is where we derive the English words “zeal”, “zealous” and “zealot.” Zelos is the same word appearing in James 3:14-18 (see the Young’s Literal Translation version quoted above). As with eris, thumos is also self-explanatory. When paired with zelos, we end up with the concept of indignant anger coupled with a desire to punish, another of the distinctive traits of the Internet troll.
- dissensions (dichostasia)
- dissension, division
This is one term that is near and dear to the heart of our enemy. It is the 3rd element in the Devil’s Four Ds: Deceive, Distract, Divide, and Destroy. He deceives people until they become distracted from keeping their focus on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, to the point where they divide themselves from other believers and are then destroyed. Sadly, over the 40+ years I’ve been serving our Lord, I’ve witnessed this sequence in action on multiple occasions and — barring divine intervention — the end is always sure.
Human beings are rarely, if ever, the real problem, it’s actually the demonic influences driving them which are. The Bible is perfectly clear on this matter:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:12
Even those who teach stuff that is way off-base — if not outright heretical — generally do not deliberately set out to deceive, but are indeed deceived themselves into thinking whatever junk they are offering up as Bible teaching is actually sound doctrine. According to the NT, this is usually to cover up, or shift focus away from, their own sin. One of the common characteristics I’ve observed over the years of those who have embraced and teach the heresy of universalism is that they are covering up their own sexual sins by them attempting to make those sins doctrinally irrelevant.
All those celebrity moral failures we read and hear about, such as Josh Duggar, Jared Fogel, and company are victims of the Four Ds. They have been demonically deceived into thinking whatever they are doing is OK or necessary, they were distracted by it until their evil deeds were discovered, they became divided — many times from their livelihoods, sometimes from their loved ones, always from their reputations and credibility — and then destroyed in the court of public opinion.
These are the same kind of folks we see Jesus hanging with during His earthly ministry, I might add, and His plans and purposes for such people remain the same to this day: redemption and restoration. Only He is capable of seeing into their hearts and minds, only He is capable of seeing their future words and deeds — good and evil — and only He is capable of determining whether they are irredeemable, only He knows whether He is turning His back on them and turning them over to their own lusts and eventual damnation.
The same goes for the trolls that castigate and crucify these folks in the press and social media. They are being demonically deceived that what they are saying is OK, they are so distracted by the evil they see and judge in others that they cannot see the evil in themselves as well as being distracted from the essential Truth that Jesus is Lord and they are not, and they will end up destroyed because all that terrible seed they are sowing will indeed come to fruition and be harvested in this life or the next.
A Root of Bitterness
During my most recent bout with Christian Internet trolls, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me one of the primary motivations for those folks: unforgiveness.
Victims of abuse — physical, emotional, sexual, religious — who have not processed forgiving their abusers generally carry around a huge load of anger, sometimes suppressed, other times not so much. What I believe the Lord showed me is that such folks get triggered by something that — subconsciously or consciously — reminds them of their torment and they see the person or movement they are trolling as a legitimate target for their bitterness. I saw this especially evidenced among those trolling Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church just after he stepped down; the victims-of-religious-abuse feeding-frenzy around that event was a real eye-opener for me.
This is what I believe the writer of Hebrews was referring to when he said, “…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). These folks’ bitterness over the abuse they had suffered was causing trouble and many became defiled, especially the unsaved folks who were witnessing all this vile hatred spewing forth.
God’s Highest Priority
Jesus said that the world would know us by His love for one another (John 13:25), not by our doctrinal perfection. Yes, accurate doctrine is important, even crucial, and I back that statement up with this blog chock-full of articles correcting false teachings, but truth be told, Jesus never once stated that we would be judged by our understanding of His Word, only by our behavior towards one another.
God’s first resort is always reconciliation; judgement and separation are His last resort. We can see this in the very foundations of humanity in Genesis 3 where included within God’s response to Adam & Eve’s rebellion was the promise of a Savior. And we see this echoed throughout the OT in the proclamation: “The Lord is good and His mercies endure forever!”
And He demands no less from us!
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8 (emphasis mine)
Those who think they are getting away with sin, no matter how “private” they think it is, forget that there are hosts of beings witnessing every selfish act we commit, every bad attitude we cop, every harsh word we speak.
- God sees literally everything: our thoughts, desires, and actions. He ensures that no one gets away with anything, that justice is always served — the laws of sowing and reaping are always in effect!
- The angels of God hearken to our voices when we speak. They are listening for the Word of God coming from our lips so they can obey that Word and minister on our behalf.
- The powers of darkness witness every word we say and deed we commit, either looking for a means to condemn us or seeking an opening they can exploit in our lives to steal, kill, and destroy — or both!
- The lost look on in their desperation for answers to the questions and problems plaguing them, searching for a ray of hope to end their hopeless misery, but are more often than not repelled by those proclaiming to love Jesus and live for Him without evidencing the love and fruit the Spirit Jesus said they would know us by
Thank God that Jesus ever makes intercession for us before His Father and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins when we confess and repent of them!
While I will be the first to admit that I am still a work in progress in this area — as we all are — I really am convinced that when we publicly criticize and condemn fellow believers, we discredit the Good News with which He entrusted us.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. — James 1:26
I believe our best prayer before we comment online would be:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. — Psalm 19:14
I didn’t write all those verses, God did. I didn’t twist anything out of context, it’s right there in plain language using any translation you care to pick. I have just held up the mirror of His Word (James 1:22-24) in front of us all and if your reflection doesn’t please you, rest assured it doesn’t please our Heavenly Father either — you might want to spend some serious time in His Word and His presence letting Him sort things out in you. I certainly am!
Thanks for reading!
P. S. One of the principles I learned early in my walk with God is to stay teachable. That means being open to God speaking to you through anyone, even those who you disagree with, even those who thoroughly cheese you off. If you are angry after reading this, you might want to run that reaction past the Holy Spirit to see if He just might be talking to you, bringing a word of correction. Just sayin’… 🙂