Put Up? Put Down? Put Off!

“Show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?.. Love your neighbor as yourself… The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness… No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God… If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”  James 2:1-4,8; 3:6,8-9,14

Put away… malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put off the old self with its practices” Colossians 3:8-9

There is much chatter these days, and when we are not in person, there seems to be less filter on what is said. Beware the heart and the tongue it controls! My spirit detects rumble warnings when I perceive ‘putting up,’ idolizing and esteeming certain people by way of parroting their verbiage or pandering to their appearance, qualifications, perceived importance, or opinions. I get just as uneasy hearing a barrage of ‘putting down,’ criticizing, castigating, or dismissing those who disagree in view or by vote. The Bible says of both, put off! (Luke 6:45)

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There is no place in the Christian life for erecting pedestals, for playing favorites, for idolatry of people we prefer, valuing (and even revering) them as more more important, as though they are exclusively superior. Nor is there any place for riding astride a high horse with irreverent or disrespectful talk, denigrating others based on their disparate views, judging their motives, ultimately diminishing them as inferior to our pompous, enlightened selves. Our distorted allegiances have thrown civil discourse of ideas and principles off kilter to the detriment of fruitful discussion of truth.

We are called to be discerning and wise, and also to respect and upbuild. There is no way to put on kindness, reason, and love to all if we are trapped in polarized affections, esteeming some and snubbing others. Putting these ungodly attitudes and ingrown habits off frees us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds so we can be imitators of God in the way we interact with and speak of others. (Ephesians 4:22-26,29-5:2)

Whom have we put on pedestals, and for what reasons? Does aligning or agreeing with certain people make us feel more important or esteemed? Whom are we trying to impress, and do we recognize we’ve made idols of them too? Whom have we dismissed, or disparaged before others, belittling them to try to make ourselves big? We dishonor God when we dishonor His image bearers. (Proverbs 11:9,12-13)

Lord on high, reveal to me where and when I lift too high or abase another. By Your Spirit I put off these practices to exalt You alone, and to honor others in Your grace.

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