Let Your Gentleness Be Evident to All (Even on the Internet)

By Katie Heid

A while back, a group of female Bible teachers penned an “open letter” to author and evangelist Beth Moore.  It blew up on Twitter and is continuing to make the rounds.  Moore responded five days later.  The nitpicking continued.  While I won’t get into the dumpster fire that is this ongoing conversation, the words in this open letter and subsequent conversations forced me to reflect on motives, collateral damage, and intent of all our words.

  • What’s the endgame with open letters, and every word we write?
  • Have we attempted to contact the person face-to-face, via email, or with a phone call?
  • What is the intent behind clarifying questions?
  • Are the motivations behind it connected to gentle correction, or public “gotcha” moments?
  • If a fellow Christian satisfies our questions now, will we continue to send rapid-fire demands their way?
  • Do we write to gain clicks or likes on social media?

The bottom line is this: if we’re not loving God and serving others to come to a repentant relationship with Christ, we’re probably doing it wrong.

We can and must do better.

We are responsible to ourselves and to God when it comes to how we treat people in person, behind their backs, or online. Here’s what God has been teaching me.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:5)  Yes, this even applies on the Internet.  There are times for rebuke and correction.  There are times to close our mouths and listen.  There are moments where we’ll ask questions instead of supplying a flurry of answers.  Know-it-all attitudes are not synonymous with discernment.  Pray to know the difference.  Winning an argument and showing other’s God’s truth are not the same.

Take the speck out of your eye first. (Matthew 7: 3-5)  All of us have sinned, but praise God He offers forgiveness and freedom of a holy life.  But check yourself before you wreck somebody else.  What sin or prideful attitude is rolling around my heart?  It needs to be dealt with before I can come alongside someone else.

Watch yourself. (Galatians 6:1-2)  Correcting someone must be done with a loving and watchful eye.  We are not immune from the sin ourselves, nor are we exempt from consequences if we sin differently than another person.  Be mindful.

Elevate others and humbly step aside. (Phil. 2:3-8)  I am not better than anyone else, and I need reminding daily.  When this falls into place, my interactions from other people take on a different approach.  They resemble Christ more and me less.  

Do not cast your pearls before swine. (Matt. 7:6) These words of Jesus initially sound harsh, but they’re meant to save us from having a stroke and expending energy on useless endeavors.  It simply means do not waste your breath or time on people who aren’t willing to hear the truth.  It’s okay to wait it out and join back in on the conversation later.  Constant hounding of someone, or nagging at them when they don’t answer, perform, or do things on your timetable does not help anyone or the cause of Christ.

Take a break. (Matt. 11:28-30)  Jesus issued a loving reprieve from the harsh mandates of religious rules.  He is the safe refuge we can retreat to when we need to take a time-out.  Running to Him must be a regular part of our routines.

Are Bible teachers accountable to their students?  Are we to gently correct others?  Are we to pray for redemption?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Do our motivations and intent matter?  Also, yes.  May we remember these truths as we continue to be salt and light in a dark, flavorless world. (Matt. 5:13-16)

 

About the author

Katie Heid has spent the better part of her career talking.  Whether it’s been as a women’s retreat speaker, member of her church’s speaking team, radio and television reporter, teacher, or a mom who has to repeat things one too many times, it’s clear she’s got the gift of gab.  She also loves Jesus and people.  Her lifelong journey with Jesus has shown her that since His greatest passion is loving people, that should be her passion, too.  Katie lives a chaotic life in Michigan with her husband and two sons.  It’s a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. (Although, she would rent it out in exchange for a good nap.)

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