In order to make the list, I had to have heard or seen the same word used more than once, expressed on at least two different occasions, by the same person. I kept no record at all of who said what, but I did keep record of the precise words that were chosen and used to describe others with whom the individual disagreed.
I stopped keeping the list when I hit the twenty mark. Why? Quite frankly: because I was sick of it. Are you curious as to contents of the list? If so, here it is, in alphabetical order.
- low lifes
- son of a bitc___
- wack jobs
Now what grieves me most is what I didn’t mention before: all of these words were spoken or typed by my brothers and sisters in Christ who quite commonly make their way through church house doors. And I don’t mean they’re guests; I mean they wear the name of Christ, our Lord and Savior, and have for at least several years. In fact, in many cases, for decades.
To be sure, we all sin, and in many ways. Christians are no exception. God have mercy on us all! And put me at the head of the line of those who need to repent daily of the way I word things at times, whether silently in my head or aloud in print or in audible speech. But make no mistake about it: a world is watching and listening closely to our witness of the Christ we claim to believe and follow … and they are not at all impressed, but only repulsed, when we speak and act so. When they hear and see such they call us hypocrites, and rightly so, and become hardened all the more in their unbelief.
Which brings a Scripture to my mind. John tells us there are three kinds of sin in this world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2.16). I dare say the preceding list can proceed from only one source: pure, unadulterated pride. Hmmm.
And so, may we all hear again the words of our Lord and Savior. May we hear them like never before. May we write them on our heart. May they cause us to become thoroughly disgusted with our speech. May they cause us to change our perception of others and go on to change in every way; to repent. May our speech be brought to complete submission to our Lord. To his glory and praise. For it is our Lord who speaks pointedly to us still when he says:
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5.21-22, The Message)