We Can Provoke In Wrong Ways, But Also In Right Ways

25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. 26 Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. ~~Galatians 5:25-26 (NASB)

We could blame social media for the increasing lack of civility in the past few years. Sadly, Christians have succumbed to the online savagely (myself included) far too often, dishonoring the Lord in our quest to win arguments. Of course, social media isn’t the true culprit here — we are! Social media just makes it easier to be nasty.

This weekend, I was in a Twitter conversation that very well could have turned ugly. By God’s grace, it didn’t. Neither of us minced words, but the Lord helped us find ways of respecting each other even as we passionately held firm to our respective positions. The Holy Spirit even helped me understand that the woman I debated was correct on an important point of her argument. My concession doesn’t mean I agree with her basic premise, mind you. But it does mean that I can treat her lovingly and with respect.

If we had allowed our conversation to degenerate into name calling and personal attacks, I don’t think I would have admitted any error on my part. I would have doubled down on efforts to vindicate myself and make her look foolish. Never mind that such efforts most likely would have only exposed an uncharitable attitude on my part. Twitter arguments usually thrive on incivility and caustic provocation.

When Christians provoke each other to anger, we demonstrate our unwillingness to follow the Spirit. Let’s look at the verses leading up to Galatians 5:25-26:

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