“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. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:31-5:2
We live in a world that reeks of entitlement. You and I both can find ourselves lured and enticed by the spirit of entitlement, and it often rears its ugly head in the form of needing to express our opinions. Whether our opinions are biblical or righteous is beside the point. We need to be heard. We need to get it out. The problem is that once we do, we tend to leave a trail of destruction behind. Our words injure and have the ability to cause division. Our need to voice our opinions, frustrations, and disagreements with others can lead us down a very dangerous road – the road to cynicism. And God says, “Beware!”
Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed an unhealthy pattern in my own life as it relates to cynicism. I have found it easier and easier to become critical and cynical. Why? Well, the excuse I mustered up to justify my sinful attitude was that people disappoint. The more disappointed I became with people that were supposed to lead and be examples to me and to many others, the more cynical I became. The more cynical I became, the less kind, compassionate, and forgiving I was. The less of those qualities that I possessed, the less I looked like Jesus. Do you see the downward spiral? Cynicism is a stronghold that is ultimately rooted in brokenness and unbelief. We put our faith and hope in people instead of God (which will always lead to brokenness), and when they fail or disappoint us, we become cynical, broken, and begin doubting God’s goodness. The more bound we become to the stronghold of cynicism, the more we miss seeing God at work all around us. We become so focused in on the object of our criticism that we fail to see God moving in mighty ways in the lives of others all around us. And one truth that we must not miss in all of this is that bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice are all forms of cynicism. It portrays itself with these many different ugly heads. When we engage in gossip and speaking poorly of our brother or sister in Christ, we fall prey to this stronghold. When we malign another’s character with our words, we fall prey to this stronghold. When we fail to lace our speech with kindness, compassion, and love, we misrepresent Christ Jesus and fall prey to this stronghold.
The next time frustration rises up within you, the next time anger is ready to boil over, the next time bitterness is about to overcome you, remember your calling:
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”
A child who knows that they are dearly loved by their father behaves differently. Know whose you are, and act accordingly. If you’ve received and embraced Christ’s love for you, how can you withhold it from others? Speak with love. Act in love. Be love, just as Jesus is love to you, and be freed from the stronghold of cynicism.