Gracious Words

Gracious Words

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
September 10, 2020

As the November election approaches and as the United Methodist General Conference looms on the horizon, the wildfires of California seem to reflect the increasingly hot rhetoric of this season. The fires, in the superheated air and in this dry season, burn up hills and down into ravines, devouring vineyards, fields, barns, homes and businesses. The white hot words too many are choosing to use in person or on social media sites also are a devouring, destroying, dismembering force: friendships are consumed, families are consumed, our sense of national identity as a people is consumed, and congregations are consumed. Trust, mutual respect, and the truth are left behind as the still hot embers of what once used to be.

The air is hot with anger. The louder we get, the less we hear. The faster we speak, the less likely it is that any genuine communication is happening. Too often the words Christians are using in the discussion about politics, race, economics and the church are hateful.

 

I see this as some in the church "jockey" for power and control as we approach a denominational decision-point in 2021. I see this kind of breakdown in civility, relationships and community in our political life.

So think about your words. Consider what you are posting on social media.

The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 4:5-6, writes to the early Christians, "Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity. Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person."

Choosing words that are always gracious can be a challenge, and I suspect that one of the keys is praying before we speak...listen...or post. Because that is what Paul says in the 4th chapter of Colossians, before he says to let our speech always be gracious: the Apostle tells the people to pray.

Pray and then choose words that are gracious.

Friends on Facebook have been posting a picture that offers us this challenge about how we speak:

BEFORE YOU SPEAK, LET YOUR WORDS PASS THROUGH THESE THREE GATES:
IS IT TRUE?
IS IT NECESSARY?
IS IT KIND?

That seems plain, clear, healthy and Christlike: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Will the words we speak from now through November (and beyond) be gracious? Will they pass through the three gates mentioned above?

Choose what is true. Choose what is necessary. Choose what is kind.

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Join us Sunday on-line or in person for worship at 10 a.m. as we continue our series INSPIRED. This Sunday, we will be looking at the wisdom passages that help us see what is true, right and beautiful.

Sign up for one of our INSPIRED small groups!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark
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