People are afraid – but what comes out of their mouths often doesn’t sound like fear; It sounds more like anger, or frustration, or bitterness, or bravado. But no matter the content of the words, the force behind those words is often fear.
Whether people are proclaiming others as being less important than themselves, blasting others for their ‘ridiculous’ beliefs, or accusing others of being narrow minded, or thoughtless, or incompetent, or heretical, or a thousand other things… fear is often the driving force behind the vehemency of our words.
Love is the only solution to this kind of fear. Perfect love drives fear away. (1 John 4:18) It’s not wrong to have an opinion, share your viewpoint, hold your own in a debate, or speak up when you see things differently. But if you let love be the force behind your words you will speak with kindness, patience, and respect.
When the ugliness and subtlety of our fears become the driving force behind our words, or our tweets, or our Facebook posts, then that fear will only result in anger. Whether that anger is aggressive or passive, anger has a ‘tone’ that fear feeds.
Someone will inevitably point out that God gets angry (according to the scriptures) and that Jesus made a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. People always use that example to justify their own indignation and anger. Except Jesus’ anger was very specific. He was angry at the religious establishment who were making it difficult for people to come to know the living God. And God gets angry about injustice and our indifference to it. That kind of anger is fuelled by love, not fear. So sure, let love stir up all sorts of passions and even angers in you.
But don’t let fear be the driving force behind your anger as is so often the case. The angry headlines, the angry tweets, the angry protests, the angry disagreements are just the fear talking.
Let love loose in your life, and your tone will change. You will be a subversive force for change, not a confrontational one. And in the process you will show others a more excellent way.
1 Cor 13
1 John 4v18