We live in a culture in which talking about others in the sense of putting them down, attacking their character- called “character assassination” is endemic. And in fact it’s not only accepted, but even celebrated. So I’m at the place that if I catch wind that I might be the victim of that, the hurt is fairly easily buried, it’s something I hardly blink at. Even while at the same time I dislike it and want to not only refuse to participate in it, but rebuke it.
James is a book that for many reasons is so timely for this day and age. We need all of scripture, but read this book to see what I mean. James, the pastor in Jerusalem, half brother of the Lord didn’t mince words and the book is one of the most down to earth books you’ll find. And he’s not really addressing the world, but those who are “believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a pity when we imbibe the culture of the world. As James says we’re not to be a friend of the world. In so being we become the enemy of God. But James also points out that the problem can arise from within us, from what scripture calls the flesh. And that the course of our lives can be headed for catastrophe from our tongues being set on fire by the fire of hell. So we see the world, the flesh and the devil as present and ready to move in and take over if we don’t put our faith into practice and refuse them entry.
What if we would make the radical decision not to talk down anyone even to our spouses, or perhaps a close friend? When we do so, we drag others down with us into that muck and mire, and they can easily become accomplices by just remaining idle, and can end up doing the same things themselves. We’re told not to keep company with angry people to guard against becoming like them (Proverbs).
Let’s find something good to say about others, about each other, or say nothing at all. We can bring our concerns to the Lord in prayer. Perhaps we can share with our spouses or close friend, or pastor or priest our general concerns, but guarding against putting another person down, perhaps by keeping their identity anonymous. God knows and we don’t. But even when they’re clearly in the wrong and perhaps hurting us we need to show them the love of our Lord, a love which loves to the end no matter what. That did love to the end, even toward his enemies.
We need to guard our tongues and our hearts, and ask the Lord to do so. And in so doing being to put our faith into practice.