Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Monday Meditations: The Power of the Written Word

on December 9, 2013

typing text{This was not from Dave’s sermon; I was in the nursery. This is just something I thought a lot about this weekend.}

Reading blogs is sometimes very helpful for my sanctification. And other times, it is very unhelpful for my sanctification.

When the author of a blog explains biblical truths clearly and graciously, I may be exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, and moved to love God and live a holier life in response.

There are other times when I read a blog, and I feel a “boiling” sensation deep inside. I start to get hot and almost shaky as I just want to leap through my computer screen and strangle the author of the blog post. Not quite the sanctifying response, right?!

And, often, the people who agitate me the most are the ones who are always talking about “grace,” “unity,” and “love.” They point fingers at other believers, calling them legalists and Pharisees and judgmental. Ahem.

Calling someone a legalist and a Pharisee is a stiff charge. I read Matthew 23 this weekend in my devotions. Pharisees were demanding of others, yet lazy themselves; they did everything they did only to gain attention for themselves; Jesus called them and their proselytes children of hell, closed to the kingdom of heaven; they were hypocritical, greedy, self-indulgent.

This is the label that many carelessly throw at others, acting themselves as accusers of the brethren! (I couldn’t help myself! 😉 ) These “grace-talking” people are not often characterized–in their written words at least–by gracious speech, as Ephesians 4:29 puts it.

When I read a blog, the only assessment of the author and the author’s character I have available (unless I rarely happen to know the author on a personal level) is the author’s words. I have read ungracious posts and comments by people in spiritual leadership, and I can’t help but wonder what their ministries are like. . . simply because of their own words.

I often read the comments of posts (which, again, I should probably do less frequently because people’s comments make me even more agitated at times!). People just respond, without thought (it seems!) or without kindness and just blow people away. Or they post simply based on how they feel or what they think without much reference to Scripture. One commenter was amazed at the words written by a certain blogger and posted his reaction. Another commenter responded back saying that if he knew the author he wouldn’t accuse him as he did. And the second commenter was absolutely right. Most of us don’t know the bloggers; all we know are the words the bloggers say.

I know that Christians do not agree on many things, some things more important than others. And I don’t think that we should necessarily forget our differences, hold hands, and sing. (Because what would we sing? We wouldn’t even be able to agree on that! 😉 ).

I love reading Al Mohler’s blog. I am sure that I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is so gracious in his written speech. It’s the type of speech that makes me want to consider his argument, because his reputation for gracious writing and love for God are consistently evident.

But of course, even when someone is attempting to speak graciously, with a view to discuss humbly, intelligently, and biblically about a given topic, there is often someone (or many) who love a good argument and split hairs in the comment section in order to make a point. They become what they say they hate: hypocritical attention-seekers. At least that is what comes across in their written words.

The written word is important. It communicates. It is the only means others may have of knowing who you are and what you most love.

I pray that my words will always communicate my great love for my Savior. My love for my husband and my children. My hope that the Gospel will spread. My desire to enjoy the good things God has given me for his glory.

Jesus warned the Pharisees in Matthew 12:36-37 about their words:

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

May we all–whether our hearts sinfully lean toward “legalism” or whether our hearts sinfully lean toward a haughty “freedom”–recognize God’ grace to us. May our speech be far from careless, knowing that Christ already took the penalty for our sinful speech. Yet may we ever portray the new creatures that we are in our careful, gracious speech, whether spoken or written.

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