It seems, as time goes on, that society has become a coarser and less understanding place than it was even less than a generation ago. The decline in decorum has developed at a gradual but persistent pace.
One can find a variety of causes for this decline, such as the constant news-cycle which magnifies the negative aspects of life, or the pitting of one group of people against the other in the name of individual “rights,” which can work at cross purposes with the idea of treating others with respect and understanding. Glorification of self over the glorification of the Lord and all that is good, also hinders an individual’s ability to become a kinder and more understanding person.
The scriptures are filled with advice and anecdotes that should be guides toward each of us becoming a better and more productive Christian. We can demonstrate our resolve in becoming a better Christian by walking away from hate, superiority, making snap judgments and spinning the truth for our own selfish ends.
An instruction given to us in handling division and misunderstanding can be found in (Romans 16: 17-19). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf; but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”
The above scriptures seem to contradict the ways which too many people comport themselves on a daily basis. Being able to take a different perspective from our own sometimes cherished and ingrained positions can start the process of learning from, rather than misinterpreting others. Everyone has unique life experiences which need to be shared and understood as a means of developing civil and compassionate discussions rather than feeding the cycle of hate and offense. When we keep score of other people’s differences, we can hinder ourselves from learning something new and amplify our own incomplete understandings.
Another Scriptural passage (Galatians 5: 13-17) exquisitely summarizes what I’m trying to present:
“For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use NOT liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Let us then go on to (Galations 5: 22-25) … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
As individuals, are we being nourished by the fruit of the spirit, or are we behaving in a way that is preventing such nourishment? It is up to us to answer this question in the affirmative.
Elder Robert Dewaele