Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 22, 23

It is my fear and concern that we have become very careless with our words. We say things about others that are harsh, mean, crude, and intended to cause harm, and we really don’t seem to care much about the outcome of these statements. People in positions of power speak out about people and about situations with demeaning statements or with inflammatory ones that are either not well considered at all or that may be very well crafted for the very purpose of causing disagreement and for stirring up unrest. This is a world that has turned to incivility as its outward expression of an unhealthy social order. God did not give us the gift of language with this sort of use in mind. God has communicated with people by the use of language since the first days of the existence of humanity, and He has sought out our expressions of who and what we are in response to Him. The Lord also desires for us to engage with each other by using the words that He has given to us and the ideas that form their meaning as a tool that brings us closer together and that forges bonds of understanding and peace.

Perhaps the problem lies within the nature of what we are seeking to craft from the use of the language that God has given to us. We seem to have demoted the words that we use from the place of lofty value that their God-ordained origin grants to them so that now these once noble ideas have become nothing more than common, coarse, and too often profane. When we say something about someone or state our opinion of a concept or an idea we are placing that person, concept, or idea on public view with the descriptor of our language attached to them in such a manner as to make it hard to disassociate the description from the entity. This may seem harmless or even to have a certain whimsical and laughable quality to it, but when the ideas that are spoken are negative or derogatory in nature, they tend to have a tenacious duration to them that will continue to color the way that people view their object long after the original statement has been lost in time and forgotten by its original speaker.

All of this gives Peter’s original comment in these verses more weight in our world wherein words are spread rapidly and widely with amazing facility. God’s truth is far more demanding of us than the form of truth that most of us have framed up for ourselves. He requires that what we hold as true be something that will endure beyond the moment and that it possesses value that endures into the unforeseeable future. The Lord commands that the truth that should inform what we speak and the manner of our expression of our ideas is all formed and expressed in an atmosphere where love is the foundation and where the desired outcome is the building up of others into a form of unity of spirit and purpose. This is an idealistic standard to set for the world at large, but it is an imperative for followers of Christ. What we say has impact into eternity, and how we speak to and about others exposes the nature of our relationship with Christ to full public view. So, every word that comes out of the mouths of people who claim Christ as Savior and Lord, needs to be clearly related to its only valid source that is found in the Word of God alone.    

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.

1 John 4: 11

 

John has already made it very clear that God does love people. He loves us to the point of ultimate and total sacrifice for our sakes. This love is without boundaries and goes beyond all human understanding. Christ loves us even when we demonstrate no prospect of returning that love, and He demands nothing from us in return for that love. Yet, if we are willing to turn away from our former lives and surrender our current and future ones to Him, Christ pours out grace, forgiveness, and healing upon our hearts and our minds. This gift of love is so powerful and complete that it transforms the people who receive it into totally new beings.

 

So, if I am a recipient of Christ’s gift, then it is reasonable to expect that I will think, act, and be different. This difference is measured in relation to my life before I knew Christ. However, it is also considered in comparison to the world in general and even in contrast to how I lived yesterday. The transformative work that Christ does in His people is on going and it is progressive. That is not to say that there will not be good days and ones that are not so good. Most of us even experience times of great challenge and apparent defeat as we go through life as followers of Christ. Yet, He remains victorious over all of the forces of evil in this world and beyond, and Christ continues to work in our hearts and our minds through all of the days of our lives.

 

Christ’s victory is based upon love, and His work in the lives of His followers is also grounded upon and infused with that same love which comes from God. As God loves us and Christ imparts that love to us, we are called upon by God to be people who love others. Although we are also led by God to be a righteous and a holy people, we are to follow the example of Jesus in all of life. Thus, we are mandated by Christ to embrace care for others, justice for the weak and the disadvantaged; we are to grant hospitality and acceptance to the foreigner, and to seek to heal the relational hurts that occur in the course of life. This love that models Christ is sacrificial. It seeks nothing for itself, but it gives everything in order to bring people into close proximity to God, and in so doing it presents to them the love that saves the world.