On Discernment and Humility

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. -CS Lewis

A friend and I discussed yesterday the distressing nature of articles and comments we often see on Christian blogs and message boards where doctrinal discussion occurs. “Uncharitable!” he said, and quite rightly. We see rampant self-righteousness, mocking, smugness, and even on occasion the broad-brush judging of the eternal souls of others (I see no need to pull examples, but will rely on your experience and perhaps your conscience to do the work).

Now, discernment is a good thing (Eph 5:10-11)! The gummy notion that it doesn’t matter what you think is a lie (1 John 5:10). And yet the way we talk matters. In addition to the Lewis quote above, I humbly posit a few things to consider as a backdrop for everything you post on the web, especially when responding to others:

1. Be kind, remembering Ephesians 4:32 (ESV): “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” And Ephesians 4:1-3: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

2. Be humble, remembering that you are nothing but a foul sinner saved from perdition by grace, a lousy beggar who has found food (Rom 3:9-12). You were bought at great price (1 Pet 1:18-19). Without the cloak of Christ’s righteousness, the moral gulf between you and God is infinitely greater than the gulf between you and Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler.

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