Monday, February 27, 2012

Harsh Words

Can one say what needs to be said about corruption without being harsh?

In the post below I struggled over using the words “cheated” and “lied” for the actions of the City Council. Even after posting it I wanted to restate it somehow. It sounds discouragingly harsh, even wrong, to say such things.

As a Christian who honors the 8th Commandment, who desires to speak well of my neighbor and to put the best construction on everything concerning my neighbor, who also honors the 4th Commandment and wants to honor all who hold the position of city father, how can I not ache when I say such things? How can I not feel that something is very wrong in this situation and even with myself?

Such is the terrible effect of these kinds of actions on the part of our parents and leaders. When they do not act honorably they force upon us a burden that we should not have to carry.

Sadly, these people were elected by the citizens. Much money was spent on the campaigns, and typically, those who spent the most won the election. Most people are not equipped to discover facts that extend beyond the advertising and media coverage. After all, how can the average citizen gain access to these facts?

I did invest time and energy researching what I could. I did learn what the big money was buying, and I voted for candidates whom I thought were not going with the flow of the money. As usual, they lost.

Does it do any real good to cry out against these things? Is there any real advantage, any real gain, to saying what no one wants to hear?

I often think of Jeremiah, the prophet of the Lord who was told even when the Lord called him to be a prophet that those to whom Jeremiah would speak would not listen but would fight against him. By Chapter 20 the poor prophet was weary and cried out:

For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. (Jeremiah 20:8-9)

He was weary of crying out against the leaders and the people. He wanted to shut up and say no more of the harsh words. But he could not keep them in as they burned like a fire in his heart and bones.

I often have also wondered how Adam felt when his son, Cain, murdered Abel. It seems that the Lord spared Adam from having to confront Cain. The Lord Himself confronted Cain. I suppose that this really was to spare them both, for the punishment should have been to put Cain to death. Yet Cain was spared.

Surely there is a lesson in both of these examples. Confrontation with harsh words should always be with the intention of serving the good. Cain was confronted with harsh words and even with exile in order to work conversion/repentance. Adam before him was confronted for the same purpose. Centuries later Jeremiah was given harsh words to speak in order that the people and their leaders would be called to be converted, too.

Surely this is what is right and good today as well. Surely harsh words need to be spoken, but should always have the good as the goal.

The truly hard part of this is the unworthiness of the one speaking the words. For as I examine myself and as any other speaker examines oneself, who can stand blameless before those to whom one is speaking?

God grant that His grace prevail, first in the heart of the one speaking, then also in the hearts of those who hear.

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