Posted by: Veroni Kruger | July 31, 2012

Who Do You Listen To?

One of the things that distinguish humans from animals is the faculty of critical thinking. We value it highly, and good educational systems encourage it. Also, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids that – how could God, who bestowed this faculty on us as one of the attributes of himself not want us to use our minds?

Lately, however, I have been disturbed by over-emphasis on everything negative. It usually begins with what seems to be a healthy, critical examination of trends of the day, be it politics or economics, customs or “the youth.” Often it focuses on other people’s behaviour. In the US it is often partisan, where in the eyes of some the democrats can do nothing right, while in the eyes of others, the republicans are even worse. In South Africa it often centres on racial issues. There is particularly one group of people that believe everything in the country is wrong, and will only be rectified when one group is permanently removed.

The word “demonize” comes to mind as an apt description of what some do to others in what they say about them.

The word may be a more accurate description of that kind of talk than we at first want to admit. I it usually means something like attributing something very bad to someone. I want to use it here in the sense of indicating an attitude that is instigated by the devil himself.

The word “devil” is derived from a Greek word that means “slanderer” or “accuser.” One could truthfully say that he is the slanderer and accuser par excellence. When he was tempting Eve he tried to get her to believe false rumours about God. He tried to slander Job in conversation with God. Revelation 12.10 describes his fall as follows: “… the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” Jesus calls him the father of lies. Even as he accuses and slanders, he is always inventing lies. His creativity goes only as far as inventing falsehoods.

Critically evaluating something is one thing. It may even lead to correction if we are prepared to do something constructive about it. But consistent, obsessive negativity may border on the demonic. And as we embroider on what we perceive as being the truth, we tend to exaggerate until we utter false generalizations.

Two disciples of Jesus one day were “righteously indignant” (nice feeling, is it not?) when the Samaritans did not quite measure up to their expectations of how they should treat Jesus. Did Jesus feel good about that? No, on the contrary, Jesus rebuked them. Some versions say He said “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of!” I would translate that sentence as “You do not realize what spirit it is that controls you!”

You and I have a choice. Either we give in to the spirit of accusation, or we go with the Spirit that blesses. And you know what? As we accuse others, our own guilt only grows. But as we speak freedom and blessing over others, our own freedom is affirmed, and we are blessed.

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