Posted: 3/2/19 at 8:20am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Turn on the TV, listen to the news, hear the radio, and look around: the truth is inescapable. People are getting meaner, crueler, and more apt to show it.
Regular readers of my columns know by now that I generally like to stay positive and encouraging. But this column is going to be a little different. It’s time to say some difficult words.
Our nation is in trouble, and it’s getting worse. Our evil side is showing. The idea of respecting those who disagree with us is disappearing as people wantonly attack each other, using the worst sewer language just for a moment of attention, a sound bite, or even a cheap laugh. People feel free to be vile and destructive with their speech as if it doesn’t matter.
This is obvious in the arena of politics, but it is also filtering down to our kids, our schools, our neighborhoods, our clubs, our society, and our families. Right is wrong, and wrong is right.
Or is it?
Jesus didn’t think so, and he had some pretty harsh words to say about the twisting of godly values. In Matthew 12, the Pharisees (teachers of the Law) were attacking Jesus’ character and reputation by saying he was the devil.
In verses 34–37 (CSB) Jesus warned them: “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the Day of Judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Harsh words, indeed! The point here is that the words and behavior that become characteristic of us proceed out of what fills our hearts. And just so you know, every one of us will one day stand before God and give an account for every word we speak, every character assassination we initiate, and every insult and vicious scheme we employ. No joke.
Listen to people; if they are spouting hatred, which is evil, then they are filled with hatred and evil. Jesus said that we speak what is in our hearts. What is on the inside bubbles out to show on the outside.
Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Wait a minute Ed, you are judging.” No, I am not; I am inspecting fruit.
A tree produces fruit, and I need to inspect the fruit before I eat it. If the fruit is infested with mold or worms, then I won’t feed on it because it will make me sick. In the same way, an unhealthy spirit—a spirit that ignores God’s values—produces infested fruit. That fruit damages the person who feeds on it, and it is up to you to inspect it before you eat.
These are harsh words, but they are what Jesus wanted us to understand. This concept makes it hard to look in the mirror, doesn’t it? Yes, it does. It’s hard for me as well. No one is immune from the insidious poison of hatred, lies, and selfishness.
So how can we help our nation and our society? The first step is that we who are Christians should turn to God in prayer. We need to confess the hatred and destructive behavior that poisons our nation; admit that it is a sin, is wrong, and is destroying us. If we are engaging in it ourselves, we need to pray for God to remove the hatred and to control our thoughts and words.
Pray for those who have been elected as leaders to be convicted of their responsibility to be civil, to be role models, and to behave as adults.
Pray for our teachers, religious leaders, neighbors, churches, families, and for yourself.
Pray that God will change the hearts of all the people in our country, because we spend way too much time tearing others down rather than building others up.
Be aware and wary of those whose fruit shows hatred, destructiveness, uncaring, and lawlessness, and of those who are encouraging others to be like them.
Inspect the fruit! Not with the judgment that belongs to God only, but with the knowledge that what you partake of influences who you become.
Inspect with prayer!