I recently read a blog post by a pastor’s wife that got me to thinking. While I didn’t agree with much of what the woman said, I could understand where she was coming from; I couldn’t, however, understand why she felt the need to be so mean-spirited in her delivery. She could have just as easily gotten her point across in a more loving way.

So why did she choose the mean-spiritedness route? Why do any of us ever choose to address a subject we don’t agree with, or attack a person we don’t exactly care for, with mean-spirited words and attitudes? While I’d like to say I’ve never been guilty of being mean-spirited, I know I would be lying. Unfortunately, I have — probably more often than I’d like to think. But why?

bud and shug

Since as Christians we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, always ready and available to guide and direct our every word, thought, and action, what excuse do we have for mouthing off? What excuse do we have for lashing out at others in a mean-spirited way?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t speak up when we see or hear something that’s wrong, something that doesn’t honor God. Chances are we should more often than we do. It’s even okay to share a differing opinion, like what this woman did in her blog post. But I’m convinced that whatever it is we believe we just have to say — whether we’re taking a firm stand against evil in this world, or simply disagreeing with someone on an issue — it can and should be done in a kind and loving way.

“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:14-16

shug and bud

Bottom line is this: I was deeply grieved when this woman, without any biblical grounds, chose to attack — in a derogatory fashion — another Christian sister by name, simply because she shared a differing opinion. But that’s not the saddest part of this story. The Bible tells us that whenever we are mean-spirited in our words or actions, we’re grieving the Holy Spirit. Wow! I don’t know about you, but that causes me to stop and give serious consideration to how what I’m thinking, saying, or writing impacts the presence of God who dwells within me.

In Ephesians 4:29-5:2 Paul admonishes believers with the following words:

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” 

May we all be careful to take Paul’s words to heart the next time we’re tempted to speak or react in a mean-spirited fashion.

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Now at my bungalow retreat, where I depict country living, bungalow-style through photographs and scripture: Birds, Bees & Butterflies. I hope you’ll stop by for a visit: www.bungalowretreat.com

bee

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