Christians Should Praise In Public & Criticize in Private

“Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself.” (Proverbs 26:4)

UnknownDuring my undergraduate degree one professor gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me for years. He said, “Don’t get into a peeing contest with a skunk because if you do you’re sure to get some on you.” This semi-grotesque statement has a simple truth to it, which is, there are some debates, arguments, and conversations that are not worth having, especially in public. Sadly, too many Christians I see on social media have yet to learn this lesson. As some of the worst Christian disagreements occur publicly on social media.

For example, too many Christian bloggers attack each other over semantics and nit-picky issues when we really have more in common in Christ. This type of public arguing does little to convince our critics from the culture. In fact, this confusion begins to make them ask,

“Do we know what love looks like”

Or,

“If they can’t love another then how can they love those who are not Christians?”

Therefore, we need to stop being foolish by not airing our sharp disagreement out in public. Rather we need to wisely discern to handle things in a private chat, phone call, or otherwise. In other words, we must consider the consequences and results from how we handle our differences. This is because Jesus prayed in John 17:23-25:

“I am in them and You are in Me.
 May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
 and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father,
I desire those You have given Me 
to be with Me where I am.
Then they will see My glory,
which You have given Me 
because You loved Me before the world’s foundation. Righteous Father! 
The world has not known You.
However, I have known You,
and these have known that You sent Me.” 

The reason why Jesus prayed for unity in John 17 was because in verse 20 He says,“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me 
through their message.” It is for those who believe and who will believe in Christ. Basically, public disunity in Christ is exactly what Satan wants. When we start to debate one another than proclaim the grace of the Gospel we fail to reflect Jesus’ hope for the world. That is, to redeem those who will repent and believe on Christ.

Admittedly, I’ve been caught up in these type of debates myself. However, now I want to foster genuine Christian unity to reflect His grace and hope than any appearance of being divisive. This does not mean I won’t have a friendly discussion with people on Facebook, which we should all continue to do. However, the difference is that I intend my public disagreements to remain friendly. Should at any point I feel the discussion has soured I will choose to lovingly conclude the conversation in private with my fellow Christian. This is because I care for them, I love Christ, and want to portray the love of Christ publicly so others who have yet to receive Jesus will not have a reason to reject Him. My hope is you will pray and come to the same decision.

In conclusion, Christian unity and love applies to us all. As Christians we are to never promote our agenda or ourselves over Christ. Rather, we are display the love of Christ to a world that needs the Savior’s redemption. Personally, I’m going to probably get it wrong in the future, but in Christ I’m going to publicly strive to do better, to be more hopeful, and more affirming for Christ. Therefore, the next time you are tempted to “answer a fool according to his foolishness” let me encourage you to reject the skunk and choose the Savior who is Jesus Christ!

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