The Moral Quality of Contempt: Wednesdays with Walter: Day 2

“You have heard that it was said to those of old,
‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council;
and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”  
Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22

“The important point is that Jesus ranged hate and contempt
under the category of murder….  The horror which Jesus feels for such action
is an expression of his own respect for the worth of personality.”

— Walter Rauschenbusch, The Social Principles of Jesus

angry.pngI’ve grown weary of contempt.

I see it expressed by our national leaders and expressed towards our national leaders.

I’ve grown weary of contempt.

I see it on Facebook…  on Twitter…  on the radio…  on television…  in the papers…

I’ve grown weary of contempt.

I feel it from the “right” and the “left.”


I just wish I could say it is because I am only a victim of contempt, but I know that my hands are stained red with the blood of those whom I have murdered with my own contempt.

And I realize now more than ever that my sins have found me out — that those whom I love the most see the stains on my hands.

I’ve grown weary of my own contempt and pray that God forgives me and gives me strength to change — to wash clean my murderous hands.

If we are to value life, we must pray that God gives us the strength to love the other — to overcome our contempt and anger towards the other — and even our enemy.

We CANNOT justify our actions of contempt and anger by saying we are fighting fire with fire.  We cannot say that acting virtuously won’t cut it in this day.

And I need to come to grips with the reality that this spirit of contempt isn’t new — Facebook, Twitter, etc. are only new weapons used to murder through contempt, but the problem of murderous contemptuous attitudes is as old as humanity.  Jesus fought it; Rauschenbusch fought it; and I pray for strength to do the same.

Will we recognize today that our actions of contempt and anger are killing us?

Will we share in the horror which Jesus feels for such action as an expression of his and our respect for the worth of personality?

Will we have the strength — not to agree with everyone — not to ignore sin — but to confront it with love instead of contempt — with life instead of murder?

How does contempt raise its ugly head on your FB feed?

How do you see contempt in your place of work?  …your home?  …your place of worship?

How will you challenge a growing culture of death and contempt for life with an abundant life of joy?



Learning to Lament

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…
James 1:27

eye-609987_1280From a young age, I remember thinking to myself that real men don’t cry and that I shouldn’t be a cry baby.  I can’t say that anyone ever explicitly taught me that or even told me that — it was just understood.  Crying was a sign of weakness, of vulnerability, of being a loser, and so you didn’t cry.

But there is a time for crying, there is a time for tears, or to use the words of the psalmist, a time to lament.  A lament is a passionate crying out of grief, of pain, of sorrow.  And for the reader and obeyer of scripture it can have a special connotation of crying out to God, a plea that He would turn and hear the cry and act based upon His love and His justice.


There is a lot of talk recently about the refugee and the immigrant.  I’m not interested in this post to make a political argument one way or the other.  It’s not that I don’t have an opinion about that, and in time that opinion may find its way into one of my blogs.  But as I sat in church today (we attended University Baptist Church in Waco, TX, for the first time today; it was a great service.), I was struck by the words of one of the worship songs we sang.  It was a lament named “Rise Up” from an album named “Lamentations:  Simple Songs of Lament and Hope, Vol 1.  I would encourage you to listen to the song by clicking here before you continue reading.

As I listened to the song I was reminded that regardless of our political persuasions or opinions regarding national security, law and order, refugees, immigrants, or whatever our hearts — if we are believers in Jesus Christ — should be breaking.  We should watch the news not with triumph or anger but with sadness and tears.  As believers, we need to learn to weep, we need to learn to cry out to God, we need to learn to lament.  If our hearts are not broken over the pain in this world, then I fear that we do not have the heart of Christ or quite possibly (to use the term with which I was raised hearing in Sunday School) we may not have Jesus in our own heart.

Let us weep together, let us cry out to God, let us lament:
   May we plead that God will rise up.
   May we pray that the earth will fear the Lord.
   May we petition that God will avenge the poor.
   May we hope that God’s Kingdom will come.
      O rise up!