A couple weeks back I asked you what the best compliment you were ever given was.
Today, and let’s stay with nothing too cruel, what is the best insult you’ve ever heard?
What comes to mind for me is one that, perhaps incorrectly, was attributed to Winston Churchill. Per the Quote Investigator, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan had this in his autobiography:
It was therefore unfortunate that on one of Lady Astor’s visits to Blenheim when my son was host Winston should have chosen to appear. The expected result of their encounter was not long in coming; after a heated argument on some trivial matter Nancy, with a fervor whose sincerity could not be doubted, shouted, “If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee!” Whereupon Winston with equal heat and sincerity answered, “And if I were your husband I would drink it.”1
Now…as your minister…I do not encourage you to respond to insult with insult…but I will admit I thought that was funny…although I also think there is a good chance Churchill never said it…and, regardless, people can trace a form of the joke to a point significantly before Churchill is to have zinged Lady Astor.
Christendom itself is not without some pretty sharp insults. For instance, Martin Luther…as in the Lutheran Church…had quite a barbed tongue.
For instance, against the Roman Papacy, he reportedly said:
YOU THINK LIKE THIS, “AS I AM A CRUDE A**, AND DO NOT READ THE BOOKS, SO THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD WHO READS THEM; RATHER, WHEN I LET MY BRAYING HEEHAW, HEEHAW RESOUND, OR EVEN LET OUT A DONKEY’S FART, THEN EVERYONE WILL HAVE TO CONSIDER IT PURE TRUTH.”2
Between you and me, if you are going to fail to be Christlike with your tongue, I would rather you fail like my Churchill example versus my Luther one. The Papacy is false and worth being called out, but let’s not forget what Jude, the brother of Christ, tells us:
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively (Jude 8-10, emphasis added).
If the archangel Michael was wise enough to hold his tongue against the devil…who is unquestionable extremely evil…then we should similarly hold our tongues against those who wrong us or God.
We have a president who either does not know or does not follow that advice. Back on June 29th, he tweeted these in succession:
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..3
…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!4
Of course, people really didn’t care much about “Psycho Joe”…but they freaked out about “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and Trump’s discussion of her facelift.
I’d say, “In fairness to Trump, Mika and Joe had been no more kind to him”…but I grew up in a world where we were taught, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Not to mention, now that I am saved, I have the Bible tell me:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:14-18, emphasis mine).
Or, more succinctly said by the apostle Peter:
9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine).
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.
In my opinion, Mika and Joe have often wronged President Trump, but…his behavior in return is beneath the presidency…and…more importantly…as a Christian it is beneath the name of Christ.
Judging Another Man’s Servant
But Trump’s questionable behavior itself wasn’t what inspired this sermon. Instead, it was an article someone I follow tweeted after it. In “OUTRAGE: Trump’s Disgraceful Lack of Character Can’t Be Ignored Any Longer,” Peter Heck insisted the following must happen:
Religious conservatives who have backed the President and willfully tied the name of Christ to his presidency must disavow these type [sic] of juvenile taunts and personal attacks.
Someone in the White House needs to get the President off Twitter.
Americans left and right need to reevaluate what is most important to us when it comes to the leaders we choose.5
My response to the original tweet?
It’s interesting how pieces like this establish minimum decency responses…implying that if u don’t do what they say u r a bad person.6
I have to admit that since the first day of Trump’s candidacy I have felt that way. People who basically say if you have any decency, you’ll react a certain way to Trump’s latest misbehavior…and to Tump himself. That if you don’t do what they dictate you are a bad person. I was, and am, a Trump supporter in that I was ultimately given a choice between an equal opportunity jerk and a woman who would eviscerate our ability to worship our Lord in our day-to-day lives…and…who considers snuffing out the lives of unborn children no big deal…plus other beliefs and attributes I find untenable.
Trump was far from my top choice…but none of the candidates were perfect…especially the final two “real ones.”
Since I am a religious conservative who backed Trump, is Heck right that I “must disavow these type [sic] of juvenile taunts and personal attacks”?
Obviously, I have no problem doing so based on what I’ve already preached today…but should people judge you and me if we do not react to someone else’s sins the way yet another person establishes them?
The Scripture that jumped out at me when it comes to this question is Romans 14:4:
4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Now…those words are in a different context than dealing with America’s abhorrent politics…but the principle remains: Who is Heck to judge you and me on whether we publicly condemn Trump or not? Or, to employ a pun…
Who the heck is Heck to judge you and me on how we confront wrongdoing?
Now, it is true…we should never defend anyone’s misbehavior…or as Isaiah says:
20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
We should not defend anyone’s misbehavior…but through the 66 I see no biblical requirement for us to condemn every sin we see committed. Our calling is far beyond being full-time church ladies (to play on a Saturday Night Live character).
Not to mention, considering how mass media and social media brings so much sin before our eyes, we’d have no time to do anything else! Feed the hungry? No time for that, Trump just insulted someone else!!! Visit the sick? Maybe once I get done condemning Obama’s latest misdeed. Comfort the brokenhearted? Did you hear what CNN just did?!?!?! I need to contact all their advertisers and drive them off the air!
In the end, beloved brothers and sisters, we will not be judged on how often and how effectively we condemned the sins of others. Instead…
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:31-40).
We’ll stop there…but if you read on about the goats…they are condemned because “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45, in part).
We’ll also stop the sermon here and continue with “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? (Part 2)” next week. Between now and then, I’d like you to remember three things:
- Do not repay evil for evil – insult for insult.
- Although you should never call evil good, the Bible does not call us to condemn every sin we see.
- When Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, the sheep are not considered blessed because of their ability to point out wrongdoing wherever they saw it.
And finally…in preparation for next week…
Look to Jesus for how to behave…He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (see Matthew 5:17).
Look to Jesus for how to behave…He is our example of how to deal righteously in every situation: how to react if we are insulted, when we should call out sin, and what we should focus our hearts on.
Look to Jesus.
1“If I Were Your Wife I’d Put Poison in Your Tea!” “If I Were Your Husband I’d Drink It.” (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2017, from http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/08/27/drink-it/
2Carey, J. (2015, November 10). Martin Luther’s 10 Sickest Burns. Retrieved July 8, 2017, from https://relevantmagazine.com/god/martin-luthers-10-sickest-burns
5Heck, P. (2017, June 29). OUTRAGE: Trump’s Disgraceful Lack of Character Can’t Be Ignored Any Longer. Retrieved July 8, 2017, from http://theresurgent.com/gross-trumps-disgraceful-lack-of-character-cant-be-ignored-any-longer/