When condescension starts

One of the things I’ve noticed in our modern society is that it’s easy for civility to go out the window.

I realize that the internet has helped with a lot of things, but one of my concerns is that people do and say things online that they would never do and say in person.

If we’re not careful, we can easily caricature people and opinions without respecting the complicated nuances of what’s truly going on.

In his book Uncommon Decency, professor Richard Mouw offers a corrective that breathes a much-needed dose of decorum into how we interact with others. He says that you should “concentrate on your own sinfulness and on the other person’s humanness.”

When you take your own sin, brokenness and misplaced priorities seriously, you’re less likely to see yourself as perpetually superior. And when your default assumption about the person you’re dealing with is that they’re a human (just like you) who is also struggling through the complications of life, you’re less likely to pounce on their every perceived misdeed.

One of the most famous—and most sobering—verses in the New Testament is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). That includes you. And me. Which is why we need God’s mercy so much—and which is why other people need it too.

Will you still disagree with people? And will you still feel strongly about sharing your views? Probably. But you’ll do it in a way that assumes a posture of humility instead of superiority. The one sure way to ensure no one ever listens to you is to talk down to them.

Real conversation stops when condescension starts. 

There are a lot of things being said out there. And civility can seem endangered. So to buck the trend, “concentrate on your own sinfulness and the other person’s humanness.”

Real conversation stops when condescension starts. 

By Matthew Ruttan

real conversation

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