Civility should be a modern-day fruit of the Spirit
After Folau: we are living in the land of Israel
This piece is part of a series from the June edition of Eternity Newspaper, where we asked several commentators to respond to the controversy over footballer Israel Folau’s meme condemning sinners – including homosexuals – to hell. Click on the names to read the other responses by Dominic Steele, Nathan Campbell and Tom Richards.
How we speak to people and of people nowadays may more often be described as rude, arrogant, threatening (think road rage) or, worse still, totally ignore them as if they are persona non grata (think not responding to messages – “unfriending” etc.). Where are the days of speaking with people in a cordial way? I believe it’s time for us who consider ourselves Christians to have a serious rethink. To always be prepared to hold out the olive branch. Be ready to show the possibility of redemption and to endeavour to find a way of peace especially with those that we differ with. The Scripture tells us that we will recognise those that are believers by their fruit. Is my fruit in line with the fruit of the Spirit? Or is it another type of fruit? Am I grafted into the true vine in such a way that I can only bear the fruit of the Spirit or am I more regularly reaching towards something or someone else? Do I respond defensively to others or in a contemplative and responsive way that seeks to understand? Reflecting on James 1:19-27, am I quick to listen and slow to speak and become angry? We are warned that human anger does not “produce the righteousness that God desires.” In fact, it produces very little except for us to realise that there is something we need to pay attention to in ourselves. Do we allow our anger to cause us to sin or to investigate how we can grow and mature?
We also must understand and take responsibility for what our words can do to others. They can heal or they can hurt. Is what we are saying bringing others closer to or casting them further away from God?
When I think about areas in my life that have been lovingly corrected by others used by God, I can see the hallmark of kindness – it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Our words should convey kindness not harshness if we are to be ambassadors for God’s kingdom.
Christie Buckingham pastors Bayside Church, Melbourne.