Take up your cross by keeping quiet

The Bible says we’re all sinful. But people are also annoying.

Sometimes they’re annoying because they’re sinful. Sometimes they’re annoying because of our sin. Normally it’s a bit of both.

Think about the guy at church who goes on about his achievements. Or the retired lady at your dinner table, moaning about mushrooms.

Examples aren’t hard to come by. People annoy us.

Our sin or theirs?

We forget about our own impatience and think it’s their self-centredness that makes them so annoying. Or their ingratitude, insensitivity or disorganisation.

So we feel justified in moaning about them. We gossip. We make passive-aggressive jokes. We think that our sin is okay because it comes in response to theirs.

But it isn’t.

Lighten the load or make it heavier?

When we see sin in other Christians, the Bible gives us two options. Rebuke them kindly (Luke 17:3), or kindly bear with them (Colossians 3:13).

Normally, it’ll be the second option.

But so often we indulge ourselves with a third option - to moan, gossip and joke, because bearing with them is heavy work.

To lighten our load, we get it off our chest.

Building up or tearing down?

But this is the opposite of Jesus’ call. Jesus commands us to take up our cross, by dying to ourselves and taking on the burden of others (Luke 9:23). He calls us to heavy work.

The apostle Paul says,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.” Ephesians 4:29

Not a word of anything that doesn’t build others up? That’s radical.

But this is what it means to follow Jesus who didn’t lighten his load by getting things off his chest. This is what it means to follow Jesus who took on our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

If your words don’t build others up, take up your cross by keeping quiet.