My heart (and head) hurt. Everywhere I look in our country people seem to be angry with one other. Many Americans are mad at our president. Our president is mad at NFL players and owners. A number of NFL players are upset at how African Americans are treated by the police. Some in our country upset because they feel the police are being accused unfairly. Still others are frustrated because they feel our flag or armed forces are being disrespected.
And they will all tell you about it on Facebook.
In the end, it comes down to the fact that we disagree. We disagree on how best to protect our country. We disagree about how to deal with illegal immigrants. We disagree on how to handle racism in our society. We disagree when a protest is appropriate and when it isn’t.
Each of us seems to know what is best. Each of us thinks we know what is right. Therefore, it upsets us, it frustrates us – it angers us – to hear others disagree with core beliefs we hold so deeply.
The problems we presently face as a country, however, are not because we disagree. They exist because we have lost the ability to disagree respectfully. As my father used to tell us when we were kids, “It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it.”
In other words, it’s not enough to be right.
The Apostle Paul once encouraged Christians to grow in their unity by “speaking the truth in love.” The same could also be said for our society today. Especially as Christians, we should speak the truth. We should speak out about what the Bible says is right and wrong. We should speak out if we see injustice.
But we should speak the truth in love. It’s not enough to be right. It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.
Our goal when we speak the truth is to help, to heal, to build up. Yet so often, we speak out because we are angry. We speak out to prove others wrong. We speak out to defeat those who disagree with us.
What makes matters worse is that we now have the megaphone of social media. Social media enables the mass dissemination of half-truths and lies. Social media gives us the opportunity to immediately shout our opinions into a microphone without taking the time to measure our response or tone.
From our president down to our own grandmothers, Americans have become accustomed to being rude and disrespectful on social media. We aren’t taking time to think about what we post. We are forgetting that wisdom is often shown in silence. We aren’t measuring our tone or response.
I am speaking to my fellow Christians when I say: Knock it off.
It is not enough to be right. We don’t speak the truth to show people how smart we are. We don’t speak the truth to tear other people down. We don’t speak the truth to destroy our enemies.
We speak the truth to help. We speak the truth to heal. We speak the truth to unite. Tone matters. It’s not enough to be right.
So speak the truth in love.