By, Isam Itson III
Matthew 15:17-20 – “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
One of the biggest lessons about social interaction that I learned while living in the Philippines was the importance of allowing people to save face. At its core, face represents the fact that a person is in good social standing. Saving face means a person is able to be seen in society because their social standing is intact. They are a member of society in good standing.
As a result there is a great deal of value placed upon knowing and honoring the proper responses across the breadth and depth of one’s social encounters. Knowing and honoring a person’s relative status in relationship to oneself is crucial to maintaining smooth interpersonal relationships and keeping face. Speaking and acting in ways that honor the value and dignity of others is crucial to the integrity of a person’s relationships. This means there is a lot of social pressure placed upon people to say and do the right things at all times.
According to Jesus, the key to honor and righteousness is not figuring out the right way to speak and act. The key to honor and righteousness is a heart filled with love for God and others. Even for our enemies. Jesus helped others because he was moved by compassion for others, because he was filled with compassion for others, because he was filled with the love of God for others. This is the call of Jesus for his followers.
An inner life defined by meditation upon God’s nature and character revealed in the scriptures is vital to a social life of personal integrity and legitimate testimony. When we meditate upon the fullness of God’s love for ourselves and others, the Holy Spirit reveals the words and actions that honor God in relationship to every person we meet. When we start with “what honors God’s love for this person?”, we don’t have to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. God will show us the words, attitudes, and actions that honor his power, love, and glory through prayer, his word, and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then it is up to us to speak and act accordingly.
1. Take time to meditate on what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, reveals about God’s love for you.
2. Look at your present situation in light of God’s love for you.
3. Stay mindful that God loves your enemies, even political ones, as much as he loves you.
4. Speak and act in relationship to other people, accordingly.