“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)
My daughter and son-in-law have a fur baby named Carrot. He is a 10-month-old Golden Doodle, weighs around 80lbs to date, and is the sweetest, most affectionate dog. I personally am not an animal person, so this is high praise for sweet Carrot! Recently, we had the pleasure of visiting their new home for the weekend and got to enjoy the full Carrot experience. On the positive side, he loves to play ball, snuggles, obeys well, and is so fluffy! On the negative side, he dribbles water everywhere (so don’t walk around barefoot), regardless of his size he seems to think he is a lap dog, and doesn’t chew his food. But, like anything or anyone worth loving, you take the negative with the positive because it’s worth it. This is life with Carrot. Regardless of how sweet Carrot may be, he is still a big dog, so my daughter and son-in-law have taken much time and effort to train him well. One of the most notable things that I love is what he does when someone enters the room. He will immediately go grab a soft toy (his purple elephant or cloth star) and grip it firmly in his mouth before running up to you. Now, this may seem like a small thing, but it is brilliant! No matter how excited or playful he is in your presence, there is no fear of him slobbering on you or accidentally biting you because he has his toy in his mouth. What a fantastic idea! Upon reflection, I feel like Carrot is a lot like many Christians I know. People who truly follow Jesus have many great positive qualities, along with the negative, and we still choose to do life together because this side of glory none of us is going to be perfect. This is life and we accept one another’s brokenness with hope and expectation that we’re all in process… most days. But here’s the thing, acknowledging being a work in progress for Jesus is not the same as justifying being mean, a bully, or unkind because we’re not perfect. This is a far bigger problem among Christians than most care to admit – especially leaders. Like Carrot, many Christians need some obedience training from the Savior. In the past few weeks, the people who have been most kind, supportive, and generous to me have been those who do not profess to follow Jesus… interesting. And those who do follow him have been the ones who I’ve witnessed be the most unkind and mean on social media, disrespectful and dismissive to others, and just plain insensitive to fellow believers. Friends, this is not the way of Jesus and it’s something we need to take note of and change. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, so bear with me as I remind you of something that maybe most Christ-followers have simply forgotten… When you tell the world you follow Jesus, they are watching you – believers and unbelievers alike. Your words, your actions—they matter and scream to those around you with blazing clarity if your faith means anything or is worth them considering. As a Christ-follower, you are like a big dog, with far more power than you realize to do harm. That power needs to come under the authority of Christ so you can be gentle with others. So learn from Carrot and shove something in your mouth (or your keyboard) so you don’t do harm if you are frustrated or upset. It’s ok to get excited and riled up about things but we don’t have to be unkind. Proverbs 18:21 from the Message reminds us, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” What’s coming out of your mouth these days, fruit or poison?
For Your Reflection… Life is hard and sometimes it is hard to control the things we say. Still, we need to try. Spend some time reflecting on the things you’ve said to others or posted on social media in the past 2-3 days. Were those things kind? Did they reflect to others that you follow Jesus? Whatever the outcome, spend some time talking with Jesus about what you learned and what you may need to continue or change.