Why Christians Should Listen Carefully and Speak with Kindness

I love this four-minute video from Russell Moore answering the question, “Why should Christians speak with kindness?” I think this message is more important right now than at any other point in my lifetime:

Here are some quotes from it:

“The people who are most angry with us right now may well be our future brothers and sisters in Christ.”

“We speak with kindness not because we’re afraid of our opponents, not because we’re afraid of our enemies, but because we are representing Christ.”

“We speak what He has told us to say, but also we speak it the way that He says it.”

“We speak Christian truths with a Christian accent.”

“People don’t change their minds because we have humiliated them.”

I know that some will point to the prophets, who were sometimes angry at people, and John the Baptist, who preached a message of repentance and confronted Herod for his sin. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and chased the money-changers out of the temple. Paul even confronted the apostle Peter. Certainly, there is a place for such things.

We need to be bold enough to speak up and tell the truth even when it’s unpopular. But that doesn’t mean we have to be mean-spirited when we do it! Jesus told the truth, but He wasn’t malicious or ill-tempered, the way many professing Christians are behaving online and sometimes in real life as well. We don’t need more self-appointed prophets whose idea of ministry is dropping in on social media and releasing their little character-assassination arsenals and self-righteous insults, supposedly in the name of Jesus.

The most powerful defense of the truth of the Gospel is the loving unity of God’s people. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).

Our need today is for Christ-followers who bear the fruit of the Spirit and love our neighbors in doing so: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:21-22). Those attributes should be a checklist we go over before we hastily post something in anger or spite against those we disagree with.  

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). When we are slow to listen—because we just know we are always right about everything and we just know what that person is REALLY thinking—we dishonor God’s Word. When we are quick to speak because that person needs to be corrected because we know we’ve done our research (which sometimes means just reading a few articles online that say what we want to believe), we dishonor Jesus. When we are quick to become angry, because we are sick and tired of all those stupid and uniformed people out there, we dishonor Jesus.

Our churches today desperately need the humility that rejects mean-spirited religion and exemplifies kindness while upholding biblical truth.  We must not just be one more special interest group that’s always complaining because people are picking on us. Unfortunately, many nonbelievers know only two kinds of Christians: those who speak the truth without grace and those who are very nice but never share the truth. What they need to see is a third type of Christian—one who, in a spirit of grace, loves them enough to humbly and kindly tell them the truth.

Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: …in purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:4,6).

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil (Luke 6:35).

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

For more, see Randy’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox.

Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries