That seems like easy enough counsel to follow, right? Then why is there so much mudslinging, name calling, rudeness and disrespectful and downright mean conversation going on?

The entire phrase is: “Guard well thy tongue, for it is in a wet place and it might slip.”

Well, mine still slips far too often, so that glorious gift of repentance gets a regular workout here. Remember how we were taught at very young ages, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Apparently, most people today have no filter — whatever pops into their heads slips right off the end of their tongues.

Shyness literally handicapped me as a youngster. Through the years, my confidence has swelled as I came to know not only who I am but also whose I am. As a child of God, I’ve had help to tame my tongue to a degree, though failure to do so still occurs daily.

Presently, I am quite the chatterbox — in part because the pandemic has robbed us and we don’t enjoy face-to-face conversations all that much. However, my gratitude for the technology we enjoy has perhaps saved my sanity during this madness.

Have you seen the quote that goes something like, “Do not judge by appearances because a rich heart may dwell under a poor coat”?

Our society as a whole is too quick to rush to judgment, especially with the eternal focus regarding appearances. One glaring example is that the façade of wealth — driving luxury vehicles, wearing pricy clothing while dwelling in enormous houses, taking extravagant vacations and more — often means only that those persons have good credit and excessive debt.

On the other hand, millionaires have been revealed who literally lived their lives like paupers.

Because a person doesn’t boast about all the charities they support doesn’t mean that they aren’t extremely generous. Biblical counsel admonishes us not to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. If someone donates for the attention, they have their reward. Personally, it is preferable to live very simply with the basics to living comparatively extravagantly and having a stingy heart and soul.

But this isn’t about financial success. It is about the choice to not judge others, especially based on appearances.

A recent Chinese study among college students proved interesting. Asked to look at selfies of strangers and try to determine their personalities by physical appearances alone, they were dead wrong 80% of the time — and my guess is that we are as well.

It’s something we are all guilty of; however, we can seek to improve and we can simply be kind. Every thought formed does not require utterance.

Social media has erupted with meanness in my opinion. Folks sit behind their screens and say brutal and cruel things to people they might not even converse with in another setting.

Many of them create animosity where none exists. It seems even the most innocuous posts are misinterpreted by these bullies who turn everything into something political, racial, anti-religion and more. Their purpose seems to be to pick fights.

Try walking in another’s shoes for a bit, and perhaps your first opinion will change.

A distant relative, who got deleted by the way, turned really ugly on a post of mine this week. He was rude, disrespectful, crude, vulgar, impudent and angry over my post, which he labeled as complaining. It was only his opinion that I was complaining. Not one other person who read it saw it that way.

Never has anyone been deleted for disagreeing with me on any topic. However, in being kind to others, it is also necessary to be kind to ourselves. Nothing said or done justified his hateful rhetoric. For that reason, you will be eliminated from my friends list in a heartbeat. I have finally learned to love myself enough to refuse to tolerate it.

For many of us, social media has proven to be a lifeline of sorts during the past year. Each of us has witnessed that sort of interchange. Just be kind. Just be polite. Don’t judge, but don’t allow anyone to bully, either.

Oftentimes, those who appear least impressive have the biggest hearts, the most compassion, love and respect. Often, they are the ones who serve willingly, humbly and consistently. They do not seek attention or recognition, yet never fail to give it where a need exists.

How wonderful to know that God will one day judge each of us based on tender mercy as well as justice.

Most of those who try so hard to impress us aren’t worth emulating anyway, while those living the most meaningful lives will never try to influence us with fancy coats.

— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.

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