“Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.” – Proverbs 26:2
We are one sentence, perhaps even one word away from being canceled. It’s not a matter of political alignment or position. It’s not a matter of speaking with enough sensitivity or moderation, although those virtues help. It is about saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, combined with living in a world that has lost its grip on even the tattered fragments of forgiveness.
You may have said or done stupid and inappropriate things. Scratch that. You have said and done stupid and inappropriate things. I know, because I have too! The pain and trauma that Proverbs 26:2 is meant to alleviate is not so much people’s disproportionate reaction to the mistakes we have made, although Jesus does offer that. Rather, the more painful injury it seeks to cure is being subjected to false charges.
The unfortunate reality of living in a world blinded by sin is that truth can be elusive. Sometimes, the truth does not come out, or at least it is hidden for a season. In our world, name-calling and labeling is often a shortcut substitute for the hard labor of moral reasoning. You can quickly find yourself on the wrong side of the aisle, regardless of which side you hope to belong to.
When you find yourself in that place, this proverb comes with words of comfort. The causeless curse, the false charge, the ignominious slur – they don’t alight. They will not–in fact they cannot–land on you. Well, that’s not the case, you think, I feel like it’s landed pretty hard. Look to Jesus. That’s the key. If ever there was somebody who was heaped with baseless curses, it was Jesus. And where is he now? At the right hand of God, reigning, perfect, honored, and more glorious than anything or anyone we will see on Earth.
This should do two things:
1) Jesus eases the sensitive conscience
Part of the difficulty of engaging with false, mean-spirited blame is that for the man or woman of sensitive conscience, you begin an internal witch hunt. If someone else thinks I did something wrong, then I must have. After all, I know I have a sinful nature. Everything I do is corrupted by sin. My accuser must be right. Jesus intercedes for you. Your confidence is not in walking in blameless perfection, but in Jesus’ perfection for you. That means you can actually accept that there may be blame you can’t root out of yourself – things you can’t consciously discover, but Jesus has covered those things because your true inner nature is no longer your sinful spirit, but Christ’s spirit.
2) Jesus lets you shrug off the haters
Not in the believe-in-yourself, don’t-let-anyone-bring-you-down sort of way, but because Jesus is your judge. That doesn’t mean a free pass; it means you will be judged with perfect, all-knowing fairness. You are ultimately going to stand in one courtroom, before one Judge. It is before Christ. And you will be upheld, because the Lord is able to make you stand in that day. (Rom 14:4) You can bring your failures honestly to Christ, and then let them go. What other people think, even what you think of yourself, will not matter in the final estimation, but only what God thinks. If you live your life before God in meekness and faith, that’s all you can do. (Mic 6:8) He will take care of the accounting, and in Jesus we can have confidence in the result.
Thank you for this encouragement. I hear it mentioned often in nearly all my circles of acquaintances that civility has faded, at best. I have felt the sting of arrows sent my way after others have misinterpreted my carefully crafted words spoken or written. It’s good to hear that as long as I’m doing my best to bring only the Lord’s truth into a raw situation, I have done enough. How others act is up to them.
Absolutely! We’ve got to do our best in phrasing things as lovingly as possible, but you can’t be responsible for anything beyond yourself. In the end, we’re all standing before only 1 Judge.