June 14, 2019 | Wanda Alger, IFA Field Correspondent
The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Prov 16:21)
Today’s political climate finds many believers on edge when talking about our national leaders – especially our President. It seems the lines are drawn rather distinctly between those who support him and those who don’t. Judging by social media posts and mainstream headlines, people either seem to love him or hate him. Those who oppose him are relentless in their attacks and persistent in their accusations and threats. Those who are loyal to him defend most everything he does and says, determined to give him the benefit of the doubt. For those who follow Christ, however, this can present some challenges when determining our response to his Twitter feed and spontaneous comments about others .
It is clear that our President enjoys his right to free speech – quite frequently and quite freely. For most believers, his comments and tweets are anything but “Christian.” Even if his motives seem noble, its hard for even nominal believers to condone some of his negative outbursts and critical reactions. Yet, most conservatives truly desire to support this man who, they believe, was placed in office, not only by the people’s votes, but by heaven’s commission.
How do we support a President who is God-fearing yet whose speech is not always Christ-like? How do we process this with others who question his integrity or doubt his motives, while upholding our own values of godly speech and conduct? Here are some biblical principles that I have personally found helpful when responding to his comments:
HONOR THE OFFICE – The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1)
Regardless of who sits in the highest office in the land and how they conduct themselves, I acknowledge their authority comes from God. I honor the Lord when I speak well of the President and refuse to mock or curse him, even when I disagree with him.
WATCH HIS ACTIONS MORE THAN HIS WORDS – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Though some of his words may be ill chosen and badly timed, his actions and demonstrations of good faith are the lasting indicators of his integrity. He has kept many campaign promises and stayed true to many conservative values and initiatives. His responsibility as President is ultimately based on what he does, not just on what he says. By the fruit, you will know him.
REJECT COARSE LANGUAGE – Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Eph 5:4)
While honoring the President and pointing out his positive actions, I am not obligated to defend his communication style nor the words he chooses. One of the most disarming things I say when people are criticizing his speech is to simply agree that sometimes he is offensive.
COVER HIS WEAKNESSES THROUGH PRAYER – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
While I won’t deny or excuse bad behavior, neither will I forget to pray that our President’s words would be seasoned with salt for the sake of the gospel. Many believe he has recently given his heart to the Lord, and if so, he is a brother, and one who desperately needs God’s grace to fulfill his assignment.
TAKE CONVERSATIONS HIGHER – Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. (Prov 10:19)
Where many have taken the Presidents’ reactions as a cue to exercise similar “freedoms,” I have determined to take the conversation higher. As a Christ-follower, I can choose to set the standard for integrity and credibility in how I respond to questionable statements by acknowledging the problem but directing the focus higher. Whether it is in social media posts, workplace banter, or dinner conversations, I try to shift the attention to that which is bringing positive change and good government back to our nation. I try to urge others to continue praying for this man who is still growing in his faith and facing relentless opposition as President.
Instead of perpetuating any continual flow of negative gossip, let us guard our testimony by following Pauls’ admonition in Ephesians 4:29-32:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.