What is a jerk? Webster's dictionary defines a jerk as a stupid person, or a person who is not well-liked or who treats people badly. Google has a more succinct description: a contemptibly obnoxious person. Or, as I said on Sunday, a jerk is often just "a big meanie-head!"
We all know someone who would be described by those definitions; someone who is just a jerk, and we really don't like being around them, whether they are at our jobs, in our families, or part of our church.
But this week, we're not looking at how to get THEM to stop being jerks. We're looking at how WE- Me and You- can go about not being a Jerk!
How do we live our lives in a way that people don't write us off because of what we say or how we say it? How do we, as Christians, ensure that people will hear what we have to say about who God is and why we follow Him?
Last week, we looked at the importance of the state of our hearts- the intent, or the WHY, behind the things we say and do. In Matthew 12:33-37, Jesus reminds us that good fruit comes from good trees and evil fruit comes from evil trees. The things we say and do come from the state of our hearts. If we are jerks, if we are meanie-heads, if we are just all around obnoxious and rude and angry and arrogant, then we have to question the state of our heart.
Inversely, if we claim to have God in our hearts, to have dedicated our lives to serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then we need to make sure that our words and actions reflect that! Christians have such a bad reputation in our culture for being jerks about things, especially about our beliefs. And because of that, many people will completely tune us out when we start talking like that.
So how do we make sure we say what needs to be said (things that are kind, challenging, affirming, or firm) in a way that people will hear us, and more importantly, hear about the God whom we love?
John Wesley had a great model for this. He called it the "3 General Rules." These are a great metric for weighing what we say and how we say it.
1) Do no harm, 2) Do good, 3) Stay in love with God. Pretty simple, huh? That's the point. A simple framework for assessing how we say things, and what we say. Try it this week. Take a few seconds before you respond to things and ask yourself: will this do harm to the other person? Will this bring about good? Will this show that I am in love with God and will it help others to love God? Try it. And let me know how it goes!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.