Have you noticed the number of put downs or tear downs people communicate to others? Some are not too offensive, while others are very demeaning (“You, Stupid…”, “What a jerk!”, “How dumb can you be?!”). We hear them from basically everyone, no matter if the person is a Christian or not. There are some who will even tear down themselves on a regular basis. It has certainly become a real part of our cultures. Often the tear downs focus on teachers, parents and people we do not get along with.
Even how we address or acknowledge people who are our elders has drastically changed in the past decade. The lack of respect is evident. This disrespect is subtle and opens the door for a greater level of disregard for all people. We treat people with distain.
I wonder what someone who is not a Christian thinks when they hear (or see through a text or post) a Christian tear or put someone down. If they heard anything about Christianity, Christians are to love others and that type of speech is totally the opposite of love. Jesus said that what was in the heart of a person would come out (Matthew 15:17-20). Communication is a great indication of what is in a person’s heart.
Did your mom ever say to you that if you do not have anything good to say about someone, do not say it? Ephesians 4:29 has the principle to say only things that will build up another person. “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Whoever coined that phrase lived in a bubble and never had someone use words to hurt them.
I had a friend growing up who had a nickname of one of Mickey Mouse’s friends. For some reason a bunch of older guys gave this nickname to my friend. And it stuck! Every time he heard that nickname, it bothered him. Over time, his hearing of it dulled him, in that it did not phase him as much as it first did. Yet one time I used that nickname, calling to him and you could see his countenance drop right before my eyes. It still hurt after several years of being called that demeaning nickname.
Perhaps you have been the recipient of a demeaning nickname or the brunt of put downs by friends, parents or classmates. It certainly can hurt every time a put down is fired your way. It tears at your deepest, inner self, destroying your image of yourself. Words hurt and they can do terrible damage.
If you have a personal faith in Jesus, knowing that He has forgiven you of your sins, a portion of the difference between Christians and people who are not Christians has to be our speech. It needs to be uplifting, truthful and loving (Colossians 4:6).
It is way too easy to be part of the crowd and be demeaning of others. It takes guts and courage to use language that encourages and shows love the way Jesus would talk to others. Find another Christian or two and make an agreement to be accountable to each other to keep each other being positive in your speech. It can be done and needs to be done by Christians.
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us who greatly desires to guide us in everything if we let Him. Ask Him to help you give Him control of your communication so that you are positively different than your friends and peers!