Jump Start # 3484
John 8:48 “The Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon.’”
At this point in the Gospel of John, the Jews and Jesus were in some very heated dialogue. In the verse before ours, Jesus declared, “you are not of God.” Our verse today is the bombastic reply from the Jews. They tossed out two words, Samaritan and demon. But these were more than words, this was name-calling, insulting and used to sway an audience and end a conversation. Hurtful. Prejudice. Wicked. And reflective of a closed heart, calling Jesus a Samaritan and a demon, was more than a slap in the face, it was a stake in the heart.
To be called a Samaritan meant you were not of Israel. You were outside. You are not one of us. You are misinformed, blinded and clueless. Who listens to a Samaritan? And, worse, You are a Samaritan that has a demon. No one cares what you say. No one is going to listen to you. You are nuts and an idiot. Those words were prejudicial and intended to hurt. Jesus would reply by saying “I do not have a demon and I honor My Father.”
We are in an environment where name-calling has become common and even the norm. Those running for office, especially on the national front, love to toss verbal bombs at each other. There is an element of progressive thinking today that unless you embrace it, you’ll be called names. And, even among brethren, we love to toss the words, “liberal,” “legalistic,” and “Pharisee” at one another.
Name calling generally got us into fights when we were in the 5th grade and they do not accomplish much more when adults use them today. Putting labels on people may identify where someone is, but more often it changes what one thinks about that person.
Name-calling. Let’s think about that:
First, tossing rude and offensive names at someone doesn’t win arguments. When a person has run out of ammo, they’ll reach for some mean names to call someone. But name calling doesn’t prove the other person is wrong, nor does it prove you are right. If anything, it shows that you cannot answer the question or argument that is put on the table. And, most often, when one feels that they are backed into a corner and they can’t get out without surrendering, they’ll stoop to name-calling.
Second, name calling hurts. Many times what is said is not true, but it still hurts. It dents someone’s reputation and it is an easy way to turn others against a person. Our moms told us that words will never harm us. That actually isn’t true. The sticks and stones do break bones, but those bones mend. The mean and hurtful things that are said can stay with a person the rest of their lives. It is those mean things that were said that causes some to walk out the door of a church building and never return. In a moment of heated exchange, years of good can come tumbling down in an instant.
Third, you can apologize for name-calling, but there remains a hole punched in someone’s heart. Your relationship may forever be ruined because of something you said. Could this be the reason why James tells us to be slow to anger and slow to speak but quick to hear? Those with short fuses get themselves in a lot of trouble. God wants us to do better. God expects His people to treat others with kindness that grows from a tender heart, as the Ephesians were told.
It’s hard to remain calm when someone is calling you names. They launch a missile your way, so you retaliate by launching two in return. This causes that person, to send an even bigger missile, which leads you to sending more his way. And, before you know it, a war has been declared and you now have a new enemy who once was a friend. This is how fellowship becomes shattered. This is how families become estranged.
So, what do I do when someone calls me a name? Respond with facts. Stick with the truth. Don’t get personal. Don’t go get into the mud with that person. You do not need to raise your voice. Volume doesn’t prove one is right. No one is killed by thunder. It’s the lightning that strikes, that matters.
Realize that you are not the first, nor will you be the last that is called names. It’s hard, but don’t take those things personal. Most often, a person doesn’t know how to respond, so calling you prejudice or some other offending term, makes them think they have proven themselves right. They haven’t. All they did was call you a name. Not a high point of maturity when one does that.
Remember, when Jesus called the Pharisees, “hypocrites,” he wasn’t saying that because He didn’t know what else to say. Look at the times the Lord uses that word. He backs that word up with proof. They were hypocrites. They were inconsistent. They were playing favorites. Jesus was trying to get them to see that their little game wasn’t working. He saw right through them.
If you want to win someone to Christ, don’t name call. If you want to build relationships, drop the name calling. Stick to the facts. If you are accused, prove yourself with Scriptures. If you can’t, then change your ways.
Hurtful words belong to broken hearts that need a Savior.