Speak Graciously

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:5-6

I am saddened when I see the hatred being portrayed in the mass shootings that occurred this past weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.  As a side note, according to the standards of the federal government, at least four victims must be killed using a firearm of some type, however, a broader criteria requires at least four victims either killed or injured to lift the event to a mass shooting.  And the incidents above are but two of the nine shootings in August 2019 alone (at the time of this writing).  Overall, there were 38 dead and 81 wounded.  When listening to the coverage, all I hear is vitriol regarding who they believe is responsible.  At this point, we have very little information regarding the purpose of the perpetrators of these shootings.  However, in today’s culture, what matters in the minds of most news agencies,  political groups or politicians is what gives them the upper hand.

This is something we as Christians need to watch out for in our own thinking.  If we do not absolutely know the reason for the shootings, or anything else for that matter, we need to keep quiet and not let our imaginations determine cause.  There are too many people who let their feelings color their conclusions.  We must remember that our assumptions do not necessarily point to truth.  I am not saying that we should lesson the outcome, for one injury or death as in the case of mass shootings are a terrible thing.  What I am saying is that by assuming anything based upon presuppositions can result in victims aside from the ones actually shot.  Let me give an example.  A man is seen walking his 3 year old daughter into a restaurant.  She did not look happy as he held her hand going into the establishment, plus he looked rough in terms of the way he is dressed and his various tattoos on his arms and face.  They notice a few bruises on the little girl.  Some may assume that the man had beat his daughter which would explain the bruises as well as the sad look on her face.  However, what did happen was she had chased their puppy while playing with it, and she accidentally fell down a few stairs.  He had immediately taken her to the doctor, wearing the clothes he wore when doing work outside.  She was unhappy because she was in pain, and he was hoping a nice dessert would cheer her up.  I use this example because I have heard people assume the worst as truth.  What if they started spreading this assumption around, you know, gossiping about him?  Who knows what injuries could happen to this sweet man’s good name.

As Christians, we must be sure that our language is always covered with grace.  We should not spread gossip or anything negative about anyone.  We must always think about how would Jesus have handled this if he was here.  We are called to conduct ourselves with wisdom, uprightness and honesty.  We must deal with all, including non-Christians with the strictest of integrity.  If we have the opportunity to converse with someone who did terrible things, we should always show our love to them.  We should always look for ways to either plant seeds, water, or harvest.   Or if they have been saved, encourage them and assist in their spiritual growth.  When we hear of something terrible happening, begin praying for the victims and the perpetrators.  We should not make any assumptions as to what a whys.  We just think of them as ones made in the image of God.  And we must never place blame on others who have nothing to do with what happened, but makes sense in making you more successful and them as evil people.  As an example, saying that those who are not in line with your Christian or political beliefs are racist or evil and have helped make what happened occur.  Our dealings with anyone should be with wisdom, grace and integrity.  For the Christian this will encourage them and let them know they are loved.  That if they did do wrong, God still loves them and you are there to help them through this, and if they did not do wrong, then you will be by their side praying that the truth will be made known.  And for the non-Christian it may give us the opportunity to speak into their lives with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I absolutely hate what is happening.  These mass shootings are killing and injuring many, however, we must never forget the collateral damage that may be caused by faulty presuppositions or outright lies.  Remember what Jesus said,  “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12.  We would not want our good name destroyed by a false conclusion.  Therefore, we should not do it to anyone else.  We are to love all people.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 Joh 4:7-8, “”But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44, and “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.”  Luke 14:23  Each of these verses deal with a different group, but combining all three show that we are to love absolutely all.   The first group are the saved; our brothers and sisters in Christ, the second our enemies and the third, the unsaved.  We are to love everyone, not just in words or to build ourselves up, but in reality.  We should treat everyone as we love them because we do love them.  And when we do, this opens the door to incredible ministry opportunities to all as we serve the true, loving and living God.

 

 

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