Speaking the Truth in Love and Contempt

My introductory post to Chapter 8 in The Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson mentioned I’d be wrestling with some very intense concepts, some which could be pretty emotional. Before I begin processing the chapter, I want to be clear that Jan Johnson has been used by God in an amazing way in this book. What a blessing! I believe God intended to use this book to speak to his people clearly about things that have gone unchecked in their personal lives. That said, perhaps you have a better grip on this topic than I, so I won’t use this entry to browbeat anyone. Consider the topic, and examine your own life.

I don’t normally quote large portions of The Jesus Life, and I’m trying not to, for obvious copyright reasons. Here is something you just have to read, though:

Contempt is studied anger…In these moments, the mind drifts to how we’ve been mistreated. When contempt is a routine thought pattern, it seeps into all of life as chronic grumbling and even bitterness.  (Johnson, p. 110.)

There is so much to contempt that this little snippet will only get us started thinking about it. And, I think that’s the point. Contempt has so many basic roots and forms it will take quite a while to wrap our minds around it. Then we have to consider the various forms and degrees of “mistreatment” that to which we are reacting. When was the last time you considered some of the following scenarios?

  • A telemarketer interrupts your day (Is this the time to be rude to an innocent person?)
  • A child makes the same mistake for the 100th time (Is your curt reply appropriate?)
  • Someone needs to share intricate details (Is it time to be “bottom line” at that moment?)
  • A mom with young children is at the checkout ahead of you (What’s going through your mind?)

The challenging thing put before us right now is the fact that rude thoughts and comments, meanness, and sarcasm (Johnson notes that “sarcasm is derived from ‘tearing of the flesh'”) have become part of our culture–even acceptable as a general rule (p. 110). I want to suggest we are unaware our hearts are full of contempt. I want to suggest we spend time looking at some key elements to contempt from a biblical perspective.

Luke 6:45 is a key passage in this chapter, and once you read it, you’ll know why.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

This is the perfect moment to pause, pray, and reflect. We know we make a poor diagnostician when we’re talking about our own “stuff” in life unless we have specific help in examining ourselves. This may be the time to ask God to show you where you have had contempt underlying a conversation, a look, an action, a thought. A few minutes of quiet self examination may be very insightful.

I’m letting this little droplet begin its descent for now. I think the actual splash is yet to come. Let’s think about this for the moment, though, and see where it takes us in our own personal prayer and dialogue with our heavenly Father.

I’m a mom of boys, and now I have the urge to say, “Incoming-g-g-g-g-g-g-g!” (Add whistle and explosion sound effects here.)

Sorry.  😉


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One Response to “Speaking the Truth in Love and Contempt”

  1. P* Says:

    This has been “rippling” in my mind/heart for a few days, as you know. I appreciate your exhortation here, friend. I believe it truly is from God’s heart to ours. Help us, Lord! LY!!

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