Trashing, Bashing and Gnashing
by Bob Burridge ©2011, 2018
We have seen tragic events where the lives of victims have been ended violently by terrorists, deranged minds, and people very frustrated with circumstances in their lives or in the world they live in. Few could fail to see the horrors of such crimes.
Sadly, we often see some take advantage of these tragedies to attack groups with whom they disagree politically, or religiously, or who hold to a different view of the world. They play the “blame game” hoping to rally their own followers to hate those they see as opponents in issues not directly related to these disgusting crimes. They use these appalling incidents to trash, bash, and gnash out at those who might cost them votes in elections, or who hold different convictions about what they personally cherish as standards to live by. It’s equally sad when we see those attacked lash out personally against their accusers which is often just more trashing, bashing, and gnashing all over again.
There is a better way to deal with these horrible events that take place in our fallen world. Rather than attacking one another personally we are better off to go after the actual perpetrators of these atrocities and the twisted convictions that motivate them.
Drugs are not to blame for the addictions that destroy people’s lives. Trucks and cars are not to blame for those incidences where pedestrians are targeted and violently run down. Guns are not the problem in the mass shootings that take place. Knives are not to blame for criminal stabbings, and the banking industry is not the cause of robberies. The problem is in the abuse of these things by those with no regard for the law or for the lives they are willing to snuff out.
There is a common inner cause for both the violent crimes, and the gnashing out personally against people who hold different views. A poisoned root yields bitter fruit. It’s what’s in the human heart that lashes out either criminally or rudely.
The real cause is uncomfortably buried in us all. We would rather not admit it of course, but that’s part of the self-deception that makes us see the evil in others while we excuse it in ourselves. Long ago the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman believers quoted from Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:3 to remind them about the real moral condition of the fallen human heart. He said in Romans 3:10-12, “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ”
We all got this way because we as a whole human race were represented in Adam when he sinned in Eden. When he ate the forbidden fruit he became spiritually dead, separated from fellowship with God his Creator. All those naturally descending from him inherit that fallen condition and the total inability to do what’s truly good and God honoring aside from the work of God’s grace. Romans 5:12 summarizes this relationship, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”
For the sake of advancing his eternal plan, and for the benefit of his redeemed children, it’s God who holds back the depravity in humans at times. Any good that we do is produced in us by God’s work in our fallen hearts. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” When God peels away his restraint that holds us back from being what we all would be aside from his governance we get an ugly glimpse of just how depraved the fallen heart is aside from the tempering hand of a Sovereign Creator. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
In Romans 1:22-28 Paul explained how God at times gives the rebellious over to their depraved urgings. In their behavior we see what it would be like in our world if it wasn’t for that restraining hand of God and his redeeming grace that can set us free from the overwhelming grip of rebellion.
Therefore there is nothing in any of us that can justify pride or feeling superior to others in those times when by his merciful restraint we aren’t engaged in evil. It’s God’s restraint that keeps us from becoming psychotic criminals or self-serving opportunists. We also give him all the glory when we avoid the rudeness and blame-shifting that demeans others personally. Our attitude should be one of humble gratitude to God for when sin is restrained in us. We need to understand where all the depraved behavior around us is coming from.
The root cause of vicious “blame game” attacks is not fully grounded in faulty parenting, the influence of various political movements, anomalies in the human brain, or changes in body chemistry. These may be contributing factors that promote aberrant or mean behaviors, but they are not the primary cause. Understanding such things may guide us in our attempt to correct negative influences. However, if that’s all we treat or blame, we are missing the real culprit that keeps corrupting while we tweak the little things that keep us distracted from the underlying disease.
Rather than look for excuses that help us explain the state of the mind severed from fellowship with God, we need to remember what lies at the root of both criminal behavior, political opportunism, and personal rudeness. This underlying cause is what comes out during squabbles in the home, gossip in the coffee break room, cutting remarks in social media, and inflammatory remarks made by those who influence us in the mass media.
God has placed us in this lost world as our current assignment. What we see happening here should stir us to diligent prayer, bow us in humble worship, instigate us to sincere evangelism on the personal level, and deliver us from the shallow, uninformed, and rude game of blame. Taking a firm stand for truth and morality doesn’t mean we can’t be kind. God’s word makes it clear that the love God desires us to pursue is not arrogant or rude. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”
The crucifying of Jesus Christ was not just a moral lesson drawn from the tragic death of some moral teacher. It was the fulfillment of the ancient promise that God himself would come to redeem his people by dying in their place. He was the representative of his people just as Adam represented the human race in Eden. Jesus paid the debt that separates us from our Creator. Those unworthy sinners whom he redeems by grace, he clothes with his own righteousness making them accepted in God’s sight again. That’s the only hope that delivers us from what we would otherwise be.
Rather than trashing, bashing, and gnashing out at those who evidence our fallen condition, we need to do our part as Christ’s representatives here in God’s world. Honor the King of kings, and thankfully serve the Savior who suffered and gave his life to redeem such rebellious creatures as ourselves. He calls us to be restored as the much loved children of our Creator, and to show that love he puts in our hearts as we deal with the challenges and evil around us. This does not mean we ignore the demands of justice, or that we never challenge behaviors and attitudes that are wrong. But we carry out our assignment here with patient kindness without arrogant rudeness or irritable behavior.
[Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.]