Let your words impart grace
Published 9:22 am Thursday, November 8, 2018
You have an advantage over me. As I write this piece, it is Monday morning, the day before the midterm elections. I do not know who is going to win what, whereas by the time you read this the outcome of the election will have been decided (you and I hope).
What neither Monday morning writer nor Thursday afternoon reader do not know is what it all means in the days ahead. But I can hazard one guess: it won’t change much in the ways we deal with each other.
We will still be living in a divided country. We will still be at edge with those we disagree with, especially if we happen to be in the same family. We will still have many fears that threaten our peace of mind.
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Differences of opinion happen. We know we can’t all be alike. In fact, our differences are what make us special. But when those differences become toxic, when they become weapons of our own self-righteousness, when they become excuses for beating each other up rather than listening to each other, then we have a problem.
The letter to the Ephesians is a fascinating epistle. It starts off with three chapters of praising God, and then three chapters of what praising God looks like in the ways we deal with each other. One of my favorite verses is the 29th verse of the fourth chapter “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”
These are words of counsel given to the early church. But they are just as applicable to the wider society. “Let your words impart grace to those who hear.”
In our culture, this is not easy. I have to admit there are people, there are situations, in which it is extremely difficult to be gracious. But to do otherwise is to assume that I am better than the other, and that is not good ground for any relationship. We all have something to learn from each other, even if it is just one more lesson in patience and tolerance.
Our words are not supposed to be weapons, darts that we toss at each other malevolently. They are windows into our minds and our souls, by which others may see what is important to us, what our values are. They are also tools by which we may inform each other, not to seek to correct each other for their folly, but so that we might learn from each other and grow a little bit.
If this last election didn’t teach us anything may it help us to be a little more gracious to each other.
REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.