Last week, I wrote a straightforward post about how you shouldn’t get serious about someone until you know how the person handles stress. At the end of the post, I decided to use a practical example from the hit reality TV show The Amazing Race. I said,
I still remember how embarrassed I was several years ago when watching the reality show Amazing Race, which featured Kelly and Ron, an unmarried Christian couple. They went on a worldwide trip through all kinds of frustrating obstacles in an attempt to win $1,000,000. While some of their competitors were loving and patient with each other, Kelly and Ron were constantly bickering and slowing themselves down by competing over who was in control.
It never crossed my mind that either Kelly or Ron would read my post, but in fact, Kelly and her husband, Scott, read it. My jaw dropped when I saw their comments under the post.
I was relieved I hadn’t been too hard on Kelly in my post, and I was also glad she took it in good humor. She pointed out how the “experience on [The Amazing Race] truly changed me and showed me a lot about myself and my flaws. Not that I am a perfect person today … just ask my husband … I still get stressed out!”
Hell Fire and Public Commentary
I don’t think my description of Kelly came anywhere close to inappropriate, but my unexpected interaction with her was a reminder of the fact that there are real people on the other end of the things we share online.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about people in the public eye. They’ve sought attention, and they should expect to get it. But let’s keep something in mind: While it’s OK to disagree with and critique them, we’ve got to watch our hearts when we do so.
Jesus said, “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. … But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). Surely Jesus was just using hyperbole to make His point, right? I don’t think so.
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says that this particular Greek word for “fool” is an expression of utter contempt for another person. But then get this: Ellicott’s goes on to explain that in Matthew 23:17-19, Jesus Himself uses the very same word to describe the Pharisees, those prideful, religious, public figures who attracted His greatest scorn. Does that make Jesus a hypocrite? No.
It shows us that it’s not so much the actual words we use to criticize others, but the heart behind them that matters. That’s why we need to be careful to make the state of our hearts evident whenever we use words to call someone else out. Nowhere is that more difficult to do than in writing, which is why we should use twice the amount of caution when we post status updates, tweet or write blog posts — and this is especially true for Americans right now in this heated election season.
Our body parts — including our brains and mouths — are designed to be “instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). And even though it will require a lot more work on our part, let’s use them for His glory and “speak the truth in love” about others (Ephesians 4:15), even reality TV stars who rub us the wrong way.