Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
For I have not shunned to declare to you the full counsel of God. [Acts 20:26-27*]
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. [2 Timothy 4:3-4]
I hear/read of too many Christians who decry and castigate other believers for being “negative.” The problem is that they do not objectively define what they mean by the criticism. Are those being accused of being “negative” speaking things which are untrue? No. Are they speaking or writing things which contradict Scripture? No. In fact, the truth of the matter is that the writings/speech being criticized as “negative” actually defend Biblical truth and seek to apply it consistently. And those being accused of “being negative” apparently hold a higher view of Scripture than their accusers.
So I guess what these people mean by their oh-so-well-informed [NOT!] criticism, is that those they accuse of being “negative” are saying things which make them, the accusers, uncomfortable and convicted of their own theological shallowness, banality, and frivolity.
I am sure these same people would be put off by the following incidents from Scripture, then, since the actors are displaying “negativity” in their dealings with others.
For example, let’s look at Jesus Christ. On at least two occasions, He referred to those who opposed Him as a “brood of vipers.” [Matthew 12:34; 23:33] Now, how is that a “positive” message?
On another occasion, He told the residents of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin that, because of their hardness of heart, God would be more lenient to the sexual perverts of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the pagans who glorified sexual perversion as a form of idol worship in Tyre and Sidon, than He would to those cities who had seen Christ and experienced His miracles. [Matthew 11:20-24] Again, that was hardly a positive message He was conveying to those who listened.
And let’s not forget when Christ addressed Peter as “Satan.” [Matthew 16:23] He also told Peter, in the same breath, “you are offensive.” Again, that’s a pretty negative message there.
And what about when He forced the merchants from the Temple using an improvised whip and called them thieves? [Matthew 21:12-13] Wasn’t that pretty negative?
And while we are listing the “negative” sayings of Jesus, let’s not forget what He said about some of the seven churches in Revelation. To the church at Ephesus, He told them that if they didn’t get their act together, He was going to destroy it because of their coldness toward Him. [Revelation 2:5] To the church at Pergamos, He told them if they didn’t clean up their mess, He would destroy them with a sword because of their tolerance of false teaching. [Revelation 2:16] To the church at Thyatira, He promised judgment for their toleration of sexual immorality. [Revelation 2:20-23] To the church at Sardis, He promised judgment because they were a church which was primarily composed of professing believers, but had few confessing believers. [Revelation 3:3] And finally, to the church at Laodicea, Christ proclaimed that they were so disgusting they made Him nauseous. [Revelation 3:15-17]
So, just how do the dear little snowflakes who wring their hands and cry out against “negativity” handle these passages of Scripture?
[Insert sound of chirping crickets here.]
Let’s look at what some other Scriptures say about others who spoke “negative” messages:
Peter is an interesting study in giving “negative messages. On the day of Pentecost, he accused his hearers of being responsible for crucifying Christ. [Acts 2:23]. This defies all seminary classes in homiletics—which tell wannabe preachers to never, ever accuse their audiences of sin and that no one ever converts under such preaching. Those listening to Peter must not have read that textbook, though, since we are told that 3,000 people were added to the church that day after hearing his sermon.
In another incident of Peter speaking “negatively” to another, he accused Ananias and Sapphira of lying to God and told Sapphira she would die because of her sin. [Acts 5:1-11]
Finally, we see Peter basically telling Simon Magus to go to perdition for seeking to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8:20-23]
Stephen called his accusers “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart.” [Acts 7:51] In other words, he accused them of being no better than Gentiles. His character assessment was spot-on, but I’m sure the modern-day cult of Christian snowflakes would have their delicate sensibilities offended by such blatant “negativity.”
Paul is another person who would invoke the scorn of the cult of Christian snowflakes for being negative.
Paul attacked and rebuked poor Peter publicly in Antioch. [Galatians 2:11-21] What had Peter done to merit such public shaming? He was simply exercising his freedom in Christ by living as a Gentile when no one from Jerusalem was around but then decided to clean up his act when a delegation from James came, and behave like a well-brought up Jewish boy. If the snowflake cult is to be believed, Paul was in error for not going to Peter privately and stating his opposition to Peter’s ways. [In addition, this incident totally destroys the Roman Catholic belief that Peter was appointed to be the earthly “head” of the church and that he acted infallibly after Pentecost, since he clearly deferred to the emissaries from James at first and then was publicly rebuked by Paul.] Was Peter offended by this very public “shaming”? If he was, he appears to have gotten over it since, at the end of his life, facing execution, he wrote that Paul’s writings were to be considered as Scripture. [2 Peter 3:15-16]
Paul’s letters are full of such negativity. For example, to the church in Corinth, he instructed them to remove someone who was openly engaging in sexual immorality from their fellowship. [1 Corinthians 5:9-13]. Didn’t he know he was supposed to just love and accept this man as he was without demanding any form of repentance or judging his chosen lifestyle? That’s what the snowflake cult would have us believe.
Another example is found in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica—in which he instructed them that someone who would not work was not to be allowed to eat from the community’s resources. He also told them that anyone who did not obey his teachings was to be removed from the fellowship. [2 Thessalonians 3:6-15]
To his young associate Timothy, Paul warned him that anyone who truly desires to follow Christ would be persecuted. [2 Timothy 3:12]
To Titus, Paul wrote that the natives of Crete were all “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons,” thereby not only being “negative,” but also perpetuating a negative stereotype of an entire ethnic group, according to post-modern snowflake thought. This is compounded by the fact that Paul instructed Titus to “rebuke them sharply” [the NASB uses the term “severely”]. The Greek term is apotomos, and indicates that one acts without hesitation to cut off a diseased tree branch. [Titus 1:12-13]
And during his time in Cyprus on his first missionary trip, Paul addressed the sorcerer Elymas as, “son of the devil.” [Acts 13:10]
The requirement of Scripture is that God’s people are to always speak the truth, regardless of whether or not those who hear us perceive that message as “nice” or “pleasant.” I’d rather have someone ticked off with me for expressing an unpleasant truth, than present them a falsehood simply because they find untruth more palatable. It is an obligation for which we will be held accountable in the day of judgment, according to Ezekiel 3:16-21.
The bottom line question is this: In the final judgment, who is more likely to have the blood of the unsaved on their hands—those who proclaimed the truth in uncompromising terms, or those who hedged because they did not wish to appear to be “negative”?
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.