cure-real
  • Word Portraits

    We are all essentially anonymous on this board, and only reveal more of ourselves to those we want to befriend, and to whom we wish to know more about us. Few are willing to even share a photo of themselves on their profile page. Yet, we actually reveal ourselves graphically to everyone here, in a way we don't often think about: in the manner and tone of our posts. We actually paint a "portrait" of ourselves that others can see--with the words we use, and the spirit that is conveyed by them. Jesus said that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. In our age of technology, I think we can rightly append to that wise observation: the words that we type into our posts also represent what is in our heart. These are the "oils" we use in painting our self-portrait.

    Of course, unlike a portrait, it's not a physical image that is revealed by our words, but rather the likeness of our personality and demeanor--which are a fairly good representation of one's character and spiritual maturity. Like a portrait, it is a likeness of us--only how we look on the inside, rather than the outside. In a very real sense, we are represented by our words just as surely as we are by a photograph or a portrait. And, as life ultimately teaches us, what is on the inside is far more important than what's on the outside. After all, what's in the heart is who we really are, and how we are assessed--both by our Lord, and pretty much anyone whose opinion really matters.

    What a beautiful self-portrait a poster creates when he or she is consistently polite, respectful of the views of others, and demonstrates the love of Jesus first and foremost in their dialogue--always conscious that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we should conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to our heavenly Father. These are the portraits of members we would like a visitor to see. How great it would be to know that visitors who stop by are thinking, "That Bibleforums board is a great Christian community! The people there really seem to love one another, and demonstrate the true meaning of Christianity in their words and attitude. That's what I'm looking for. That's what I need in my life."

    Unfortunately....there are some here whose posts consistently exhibit sarcasm, intolerance, and negative, emotional responses to the other person who is "just not getting it." We see very unflattering portraits of these posters, as well as of those who insist on lording their great knowledge over others--condescending to the level of us mere mortals in their attempts to "show us the way." Then they become angry and resentful when someone points out that there are other viewpoints just as valid as theirs, or that a nasty spirit does not inspire confidence in the divine inspiration of their doctrine.

    What about one-time visitors who drop in, and see insults and disrespect? They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression--and that certainly would not make a very good one. We can all agree to disagree, and even debate "fervently," without allowing negative emotions to creep into our words, turning a simple discussion into a heated argument with nasty, snide remarks that serve no useful purpose. That's when we let the flesh overcome the Spirit--and nothing good can ever come from that.

    What good is it to profess ourselves Christians, if we consistently demonstrate characteristics that belie that profession? Do we not do a disservice to our Lord when those who do not know Him judge Him and our faith by our bad examples? Most people naturally assess Christianity by the Christians they know or come into contact with. If they get a bad impression from our poor representation, we are lousy stewards. As Jesus taught, A tree is judged by the quality of its fruit. We should always strive to paint a quality portrait of ourselves with our words--not only here, but everywhere we are, and at all times. Because, in the final analysis, the portraits we paint of ourselves with our words not only represent who we are spiritually, but also our reverence for the Lord--and for many, the very legitimacy of our faith. No artist would ever want to paint an unflattering self-portrait, and neither should we. Besides....we all certainly want the very best image of ourselves hanging in our heavenly Father's gallery!
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Saved7's Avatar
      Saved7 -
      Respectful and eloquent. Nicely done brother.
    1. Redeemed by Grace's Avatar
      Redeemed by Grace -
      Not only well written, but also challenging and humbling... to the cause that if I every offend here, I want to know so that I can be corrected and make amends.

      Thanks Sojourner.... Blessings...
    1. quiet dove's Avatar
      quiet dove -
      Excellent article!!
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      Thanks guys. I had no one in particular in mind when I wrote this--though we're all aware that we have a small number of regular posters who tend to let their emotions and tenacity of viewpoint overshadow the love of Jesus and mutual respect for others. We all need a reminder that we are BibleForums, that we only get one chance to make a good first impression on visitors and that we very literally represent ourselves, our faith, and our Lord by our posts. I continually myself of that quite often, and just thought I'd pass it along.
    1. calloffthesearch's Avatar
      calloffthesearch -
      I agree wholehearedly with everything you have said S55 and respect to you for reminding us all what really matters and why we are here. I have only just joined the site and was struck by a long thread of negativity i noticed yesterday, which basically developed into an arguement and left me frowning and anxious about its content. As you say we are Christ's representatives here, both on the boards and in our daily interactions with others and there is never any need to blow out someones elses candle to makes yours burn brighter !!

      God bless your wonderful soul

      c.o.t.s
    1. Eyelog's Avatar
      Eyelog -
      Paul said:

      28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

      Col 1

      15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

      Col 3

      1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
      2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

      5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. ... Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

      Col 4
      He said:

      1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
      12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

      Rom 2
      He also said:

      10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

      14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. 21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

      1 Cor 4
      He said:

      3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

      1 Tim 1
      He said:

      1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
      10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

      2 Tim 3
      Need I go on. There is a balance.

      Proclaiming the truth in the forum, as Paul did in the Areopagus, is not a matter of softening the message, but of being all things to all men that some may be saved. To the weak, we are weak. To the strong, strong. To the wrong, right. To the nasty, ... we answer kindly. But the truth must be proclaimed. Attacks on the truth must be defended and even rebuked.

      Respecting the person as a person, or at least as a beloved enemy if one can't respect them as a sibling in Christ or a friend, is certainly job one. But this is not the same as being required to "respect the views of others."

      Respecting the views of others is only as to 'disputable matters,' things over which there is uncertainty and no need to defend our relatively baseless opinions. This also goes for situations where the matter is not 'crucial' to one's faith, but more an indicator of the strength of one's faith, like in the case of 'eating food dedicated or sacrificed to idols.' We ought not say or do things which would lead a fellow believer astray. But to suggest we ought to let science-heads, for example, brow beat us into not expressing the truth of the Bible because it might turn them off, is the essence of letting the patient prescribe to the doctor, letting the tail wag the dog, letting the fool teach Christ.

      For example, when a person repeatedly proclaims, the Word does not tell us how long after creation Adam was created, when it tells us clearly, and later Scripture even interprets that passage as 6 literal days, that person must be asked to examine their motives, as well as the selection of their conceptual frameworks, hermeneutics and the like. Even showing the person they are not as smart on the subject as they think is HIGHLY appropriate. What else is it to 'contend for the faith.'

      Such is not unloving and painting a poor picture of Christ, who called a spade a viper and knew when to manufacture and employ a whip.

      Just how compromising do we think He will be on His return? Are we, as His ambassadors, to paint Christ as easy on sinners, liars, the deceived and the unfaithful? That doesn't seem like we would be serving His interests.

      I find that many ideas folks have about the compassion and kindness and gentleness of Christ - The Christian Mr. Nice Guy point of view - are not at all supported in Scripture.

      Consequently, our motive and our mode of operation ought to be to help others awaken from their dogmatic slumber of faithlessness, if we are accurately diagnosing it as such. Obviously, the results are in the hands of the Spirit, but we are talking about what Jesus expects US to do.


      But the final word is that we definitely ought not to quarrel:

      1.Matthew 12:19
      “ HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS.
      2.1 Corinthians 1:
      10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”
      3.2 Timothy 2:23
      But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
      4.2 Timothy 2:24
      The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
      5.James 4:1
      What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
      6.James 4:2
      You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

      How can we get unity in the faith (Eph 4; 1 Cor 1) if respecting every point of view is the standard of good Chrisitian conduct. That calls, not for unity, but chaos and much stupidity -- a lack of thinking about what the Word actually says. It calls for rejecting that which denies the truth and seeks to substitute the ideas of mankind for spiritual wisdom. For, worldly wisdom is just that: Wistful and Dumb.

      Casting derision on another who is wrong is wrong. But it is just one step above being kind and letting the person who is in error go on being wrong without pointing it out, as if kindness in words is more kind than the kindness which comes from proclaiming the truth. What happened to wounds from a friend?

      We are to love in both word and deed, and nice words which do not come from true love are actually damaging. For, true love is helping another to see the truth. If that blows out their candle, how much of a candle was it, really? Unfortunately, sometimes love must be tough. And no one was tougher than Jesus Christ. But He had a way of fanning the flame while telling the truth. That is what we must emulate.

      So, if this forum is to be limited to K-Love-like talk, what's the point?

      Indeed, in that case, who is the portrait of? Surely, not Jesus Christ.

      For there is much good in kindness and sprinkling sugar and serving up milk. But that steady diet, demanded by so many, at the cost of learning to stomach the more difficult but essential and clear truths we must PUT INTO PRACTICE, may lead some to ruination of their faith, and to the rest, weakness, inconsistency, and a lack of growth in persevering in the face of the clear call to overcome sin, temptation and persecution.
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      I'm happy that most of the comments to the article have been positive. We all get a lkittle frustrated at times, and maybe a little too emotional about our convictions. But, I believe it is possible for Christians to articulate their differences without being consistently nasty and sarcastic. I believe that the personality--and consequently, the spiritual character of a person--is fairly represented by the tone that most often characterizes his or her posts. And I believe that new visitors often judge a Christian board by the spirit that is perceived in the posts they read--which after all, seems a fair means of assessment.

      No particular person on this board was in mind when the article was written. It was merely intended as an exhortation. If a person feels convicted, or feels he or she is being addressed, perhaps he or she might benefit by taking the message of the article to heart, and applying it to future exchanges. And anyone who chooses to disregard--or even disdain the message, is certainly free to do so.
    1. ronshua's Avatar
      ronshua -
      Greetings Saints , I'm a newbie to this forum , good place for me to start .

      Peace .
    1. Twin2's Avatar
      Twin2 -
      It is so true that though many of us on this board are anonymous, we have created an identity using our user names. We have a reputation here also. Jesus knows the person behind the name too. We will be held accountable for everything we do or say, even when done behind a user name. Our goal should be to honor the Lord with every word. At the very least, we should not tear his kingdom down. Your article was a nice, gentle reminder of this. Thank you.
    1. Martin Musatov's Avatar
      Martin Musatov -
      Quote Originally Posted by Saved7 View Post
      Respectful and eloquent. Nicely done brother.
      Respectfully, and with full intent of stating this politely, I must refute your statement "We are all essentially anonymous on this board", because the reality and fact of the matter, the truth is this simply not the case, no matter how eloquently you state it. My user name is my first and last name, Martin Musatov. Zero anonymity there. There are high standards of truth required in secular journalism and the same or greater should be followed on a forum dedicated to the study of the Word of God.
    1. Martin Musatov's Avatar
      Martin Musatov -
      Withstanding any inaccuarate statements, the article was nontheless written well.
    1. MoreMercy's Avatar
      MoreMercy -
      I must love Christ Jesus more than...
      You figure the rest out for yourselves.
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      I personally try to demonstrate my love for Jesus through love and respect for others. But, that's just me.
    1. MaryFreeman's Avatar
      MaryFreeman -
      What an awesome message! Something quite a few have been trying to say.... I know for myself that I have to make sure and fast from the forums and keep myself from getting too heatedly into it or I lose my witness for Christ by yielding to the flesh.... What a wonderful reminder that we are a family and should always act like one....
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