Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matt 13:45)
And if you had one of those pearls, what would you do with it?
Here’s what you would not do: You would not “throw it to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matt 7:6)
Words as Pearls.
We each have our own orientation—politically and theologically, and tweets and arguments aren’t going to change it.
If you come across a position you strongly disagree with, consider if your words are likely to change the person’s mind. If not, conserve your time and energy.
When argued with, consider if your retort is likely to change the other person’s mind. If not, keep your time, energy and pearls, and let the other person have the last word.
(Sometimes, of course, one is called to challenge harmful theological or political positions—that subjugate women, that harm the poor, and then one needs to use one’s pen as a sword).
Words as Stones
Throw enough pebbles, long enough, and the victim dies, as in the ancient Mosaic death by stoning.
Words, flung at us like stones, can sap, hurt and damage our spirits, and without being precious about it, we need to protect ourselves.
That best way to deal with passive-aggressive frenemies on Facebook or blogs–you know, who mock and contradict and shoot down pretty much every idea or post is to block them. If you know them in real life, politely explain why. Sadly, on occasion, perceived or actual success can change “friends” to frenemies.
If random readers are rude or abusive to me on Facebook or Twitter or my blog, I instantly block them, which is like flinging an invisibility cloak over myself, and offers a measure of protection. Life is short, and some people need meds and shrinks, not blogs and twitter.
Words as Swords
Here is a mighty use of words: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Wow! The only way we Christian writers might write words which are alive and active, speaking to soul and spirit, is to slow down enough to overhear God’s spirit.
But here’s the catch. Writers have sharpened their verbal instrument. And when you cross them, when they are very angry? There is the temptation to use words, not as spirit-empowered swords, but as weapons.
And that’s when words are a double-edged sword. You cannot damage or destroy someone else without being damaged in the process, even if the damage is just in your spirit, the most precious, and often least-valued part of a person. It’s measure for measure.
There are exceptions, of course, but it’s safest to only use words as swords after prayer and discussion with other Christians.
And what when your words as pearls are stolen?
Last week, I noticed a commentator on my blog had taken the idea, the tripartite division, the metaphor, structure, and some words and passed it off as her own work–on a site of Bible reflections, to add insult to injury. And it was the second time, this young woman had taken my insights, imagery and words from posts she’d commented on, developed them, and guest-posted them on larger sites, without attribution.
Me: “Jesus, do you see this? Do you see that comment, “It’s the most profound thing I’ve seen.” And look at her, just accepting the praise, as if she’d thought of the idea herself.”
Jesus, “Let her.”
Me, “It was my original thinking and living and writing. And instead of doing her own thinking, she’s passing off my insights and words as her own. That’s just lazy.”
Jesus, “Let her.”
Me, “Jesus, you are so pacific. You are of no help to a girl when it comes to plagiarism!”
And he, tenderly, “Anita, do you not think that I could even now give you twelve legions of blog ideas. My thoughts towards outnumber the grain of sands. Tune in. Listen to me for fresh ideas.”
And I relax, and I tune in to Jesus. Yes, “let her!” And I step into the waterfall of living waters, and let it course through my cantankerous soul, scouring it, cleansing it, filling it. And words of life begin to bubble up.
* * *
He is the Word. And his words are truth and life to my soul.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.