Posted by mark tindle
Have you noticed the escalating level of harsh and hurtful comments in the public discourse? Does it seem to you that people with differing opinions and ideas are more interested in degrading and dehumanizing the “other” than in listening and learning and creating a better community? I have an idea that might help.
You might think I’m going to throw some Bible verses at you, which I could. But I’m not. It occurred to me the other day that when I take couples thru pre-marital counseling, I recommend a strategy for dealing with important (and often emotional) conversations. It’s an idea I learned many years ago, and I don’t even know who thought it up originally. But it’s this:
THINK before you speak.
And I would extend that to say, “THINK before you post, too.”
THINK is an acronym representing five check-points. If what I’m about to say doesn’t check off ALL FIVE of these boxes, then it would be wise to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to say what I want to say. Is what I’m about to say…
If you wanted to you could probably summarize all these questions in the idea of “loving one another.”
To clarify, inspiring doesn’t mean all I say is “rah, rah, you’re a great person.” But it does mean I want my comments to inspire the other person to become the best version of themself; to stir up a desire for something better within them. If you prefer a Bible passage, you could check out some comments in Ephesians 4:25 – 5:4, or Jesus very challenging words in Luke 6:27-36.
None of these ideas are intended to say we shouldn’t discuss important, or even difficult matters. But the manner in which we carry on these conversations is vitally important. And the culture around us beckons us to stoop to the lowest denominator, to make assumptions about those with whom we disagree, and to participate in dehumanizing the “other.” Jesus’ plan is for a very different kind of community, one in which people from diverse backgrounds, opinions, beliefs, and traditions become formed into a family of brothers and sisters who are learning to think and act like Jesus himself, IOW to love one another.
This is a challenge. This may be the defining challenge of this age. Jesus himself said that the way in which we love one another would let the world know if we truly are his disciples. (John 13:35)