“I say this in love…”
You can injure a lot of people with that term.
“I say this in love” has caused a lot of damage over the years.
In church relationships…
In work situations…
It can be in person or online.
It’s often the start of some of the “best” gossip — or unfair judging. Certainly some very hurtful criticism begins this way.
I’ve been the recipient of this kind of “love” and sometimes it doesn’t seem very loving to me.
Sometimes people seem to think they can say anything — in any form — without considering the consequences — as long as they begin with that phrase.
I’ve seen people preface a mean-spirited zinger of a comment with a disclaimer of love, but it’s still a mean-spirited zinger. The way you begin a conversation doesn’t remove the need to be kind, even when offering correction or extending criticism.
We should do all things in love. That’s a command. As believers, we have to learn how to critique, criticize, complain and even rebuke people — in love.
But, let’s make sure we display love all the way through our conversations.
Not just with the first five words.
In a future post, I’ll to help us think through this issue more with some hopefully helpful tips.
I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean — especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?”
It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.
Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.
But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.
It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.
The post got a little attention.
Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded.
Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve — some even wanted examples.
I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name. :).
I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.
Here are a dozen suggestions:
Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)
Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Love one another (John 13:34)
Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)
Treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31)
Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)
Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)
Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.
And, finally, a bonus one:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Those are some of my suggestions.
Got any others?
Okay, this one will get me into trouble. Especially if the shoe fits. Wait for the comments on this one.
But I have to ask…
When did Christians become so mean?
Not all Christians. Most Christians I know are nice. Very nice.
But, I’ve met some mean ones lately.
Now, let me be clear. I am one. A Christian that is. (Hopefully not mean — too often.) In fact, I’ve centered my life around my faith and even am vocationally supported by Christians. (So I love you! I really do.)
But, when did some of you — my brothers and sisters in Christ as we are often referred to — become so mean?
It’s mostly online. You write something they don’t agree with, and instead of a healthy disagreement, they blast you. Right there on your Facebook wall or with a hurting comment on a blog post. Where everyone can read it. In fact, some people read it even before the one who wrote the post reads it. I’ve even had guest bloggers tell me they don’t want to post anymore because of the comments.
I understand that. My blogs are reposted on different websites — with more widespread readers than I have — and I don’t read the comments much, because when I do — I’m tempted to tell them I don’t want to post there anymore. Mean people commenting — calling themselves Christians. I don’t want to play that game either. Who has time for that?
It’s not that they don’t have valid points. Many times they do, but the way they make their point doesn’t come across very Christ-like. Actually rather mean.
I get that it’s cultural now. We’ve become transparent. Honest. Blunt. But — just being honest — sometimes that comes across as mean.
I can’t imagine how those outside the faith view the way we often treat each other.
I wrote a post about Christians behaving online. It wasn’t just because I didn’t have anything else to write about. It’s because some Christians have become mean. Online. For everyone to see.
The Internet has made it so much easier — and faster — to be mean if you choose to be mean. Even anonymously if you want.
But, I’ve seen it in public too.
Why just last week — I saw a Bible study group meeting at a local coffee shop. I didn’t know any of them. I was minding my own business, but it was obvious what they were doing discussing the Bible. They had Bibles.
I loved it.
Then one of them became a real jerk to the girl that messed up his order.
Mean. Right there in front of his Bible study friends, me, and all the other coffee shop patrons — many who may not have been Christians. And, probably aren’t anymore motivated to be one now.
I was embarrassed.
I’ve had some restaurant people tell me the “church hour” — after the churches finish on Sunday — is one of the hardest hours of their week. Really? That’s sad. I would hope it’d be the opposite.
How’s that for having the mind of Christ? Or being witnesses? Or considering others better than ourselves?
Whenever I’ve asked, well over three fourths of my blog readers identify themselves as believers. So, if you’re in the one fourth who don’t claim Christianity, this post isn’t for you. Sorry about that, but today I’m only addressing the “family”. We call ourselves brothers and sisters. In love, we sometimes gently rebuke one another. That’s what families do.
So, brothers and sisters. Quit being mean.
Consider what you say and the way you say it before you ever say it.
That sounds logical. Biblical. A good discipline even.
Because I can fall into a culture that thinks more about myself than others too. You can too. We all can. We can value our opinion, consider others without our opinion wrong, and talk to people who we know are wrong like they are less human because of it. Sometimes we treat members of our family — people we love — worse than we treat a stranger. I get that.
But, when we are mean it flies in the face of what Christians are taught to do — in the Bible we claim as our guide. And, it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance. To my knowledge, no one ever comes to faith through meanness. Or watching someone be mean to others.
In fact, there is no “meanness” of God. God is love — even when He’s sharing truth.
And, we are to be like Him. At least becoming more like Him.
So this is an encouragement. A simple, striving to be nice, non-mean intended, encouragement.
Let’s clean up our act. Or, to put it in my Christian like terms — let’s let Jesus clean up our act. Let’s be more like our Savior. The One by whom we are called Christians. Christ.
Let’s set an example for others. Not be so mean. Actually be nicer. A kinder, gentler breed of Christians. Let’s learn how to disagree with one another the right way. Full of grace and truth. Let’s love one another. And, demonstrate the peace of Christ to those who are seeking peace.
If they can’t find kindness, forgiveness, love in us — where will they find it?
“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.” Proverbs 11:17