Earle D. Treptow
In the days following November’s presidential election, people across the United States exercised their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Some expressed their disappointment through derogatory Facebook posts and scathing tweets or took to the streets in protest. Others celebrated the results.
According to the First Amendment, Americans are free to speak what’s
on their minds. With some limitations, we have the right to voice our opinions about elected leaders. That’s not, however, the way God would have his people think about freedom of speech.
Those who have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit have a freedom of speech far surpassing the freedom protected by the First Amendment.
We are free, first, to speak to God directly in prayer. Though our sin makes us unworthy of that privilege, “in [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12). We have the right to bring our concerns to the One who spoke this world into existence, knowing that he is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
If you’re concerned about the future of the country in which you live, exercise that freedom of speech. Speak to the One who rules over everything everywhere for the benefit of his church. Ask him to grant wisdom to those who serve in the government so that they recognize their solemn responsibility as his representatives. Pray that the Lord would lead the citizens of this country to live in accord with the law he wrote on their hearts.
Because the sinful nature clings to us in this life, we sometimes use our words to tear people down, including those God has placed over us in the state. We put others down to elevate ourselves, to assure ourselves that, while we may not be perfect, we are at least better than “those people.” Sadly, we’re often more interested in what we feel about ourselves than what God himself has said about us in Christ. He has declared us innocent and the delight of his heart. Since we have perfect security in Christ, we need not seek it in tearing others down.
Secure in God’s declaration of us, we are free to speak about others in a respectful way. The apostle Paul encourages us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). We who have experienced grace in what God says about us are free to show grace to others in what we say about them.
Exercise your freedom of speech! Speak about others with respect, including those whom God has placed over you in the government, whether you feel they’ve earned it or not.
We have one more freedom of speech
in Christ: We are free to speak the good news of Jesus to everyone. The Lord has commissioned us to be a blessing to others as we testify to God’s love for all. Real change happens when the Spirit of God changes hearts, and he does that through the message of Christ. So, speak up. Proclaim the extraordinary grace of God in Christ.
Exercise your freedom of speech as a Christian. Speak, in prayer, to the One who rules over all for the benefit of his church. Speak respectfully about God’s representatives in the government. And speak the Word of Christ, by which the Lord changes hearts and lives.
God will bless your speaking.
Contributing editor Earle Treptow, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Calvary, Thiensville, Wisconsin.
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Author: Earle D. Treptow
Volume 104, Number 2
Issue: February 2017
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
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