The other day I was conversing with someone–the who isn’t really important because this issue carries across multiple relationships. Although we bounced around vital ideas and problems within culture, religion, relationships, and parenting, etc., our discourse was plagued with bleak analysis and critical dismay (over people and situations). And I got to thinking, what good does all this negative chatter do? Are we putting forth our energies to help, to evoke change, or do we just pridefully berate the downfall of man without lending a hand?
Am I critiquing how something is done without offering a solution or praying about the people who have the power to change it?
Am I inspiring and challenging people to be the best version of themselves or merely pointing a finger and saying, “You’d better get your act together.”
Am I noticing and edifying the best in people or just focusing on what they get wrong?
Do my words speak life or death?
Nobody wants to hang out with Debby Downer or Pessimistic Pete. They just aren’t fun, and you have to wonder, “Do they find joy in anyone or anything?” Why do they talk more about what isn’t than what is? It’s hard to keep many long-term friends when you constantly walk around with a furrowed brow and a wet blanket. Plus, you know that if that person dismisses others with a scoff they are probably thinking similar thoughts about you.
I went to college with a friend who literally had nothing negative to say about anyone. Not only was she a safe person to be around, but she exuded joy and compassionate love. She squelched gossip and inspired us to find the best in people, even if it was minimal. We saw how she loved and served people in humble acknowledgement of their God-given value. I wish I was more like that.
Now, I’m not advocating for blinders to evil or a mentality that embraces sin. I think we should use discretion and wisdom in choosing who we hang out with. And some people just aren’t beneficial to connect with on a regular basis. Nor should we stuff what we can’t express. I don’t want to merely speak no evil about people; I want a true heart change that allows me to see people through Christ’s eyes. Is that person perfect? Certainly not, but neither am I. Can I change them? Probably not. But, I can work on me. I can endeavor to improve my little sphere and make a difference with the people I know and the information handed to me.
I can replace gossip, worry, and analysis with prayer.
I can spend more time serving and helping than researching and critiquing.
I can quit talking about evil and start doing something to combat it.
“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom. 12:21
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:37
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matt. 5:22
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:32
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil. 4:8