“The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to all.”
- Proverbs 24:9 (NRSV)
What would the world be like if we actually regarded scoffing as an abomination? If we could disagree with someone and still treat them with respect? If we could be angry with someone without belittling them?
My enemies are obviously dumber than I am, less evolved, less educated, less aware, more ridiculous, more in need of therapy. But every once in a while I wonder, “What if I assumed that my enemies are actually more or less intelligent people with good intentions and different life experiences, who might also be correct in some way hidden to me? Or that they might be very wrong, but maybe there’s a whole history of pain there that I can’t see? What if, before I respond, I breathe for 15 seconds and remind myself that God loves this person?”
Then I shake that nonsense out of my head and try to come up with a clever comeback that will get me a lot of likes from people who already agree with me. It won’t change anybody’s mind, which is what I’m trying to do, but it sure will feel good.
What would it look like if there was less scoffing? On social media? In your heart? If the people on your side of the issue didn’t reward you with so much praise for throwing so much shade, for having such sick burns, for reading your enemies so well? What might happen if we approached our disagreements with a little more curiosity and a little less derision? What tides—and hearts—might turn then?
God, you taught us that evil is to be resisted, not excused. Let me do so with earnestness, not scoffing. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.