|Debris on the grille of Kyle Busch's car. Phoenix, Feb. 2011.|
Credit: Chris Graythen
Social media makes it easy for race fans to interact. Commenting and tweeting can be a wonderful way to share ideas and build relationships with other fans. But it can have a dark side, too. When a harsh comment is typed in the heat of the moment, is that a good thing?
Freedom of speech is a treasured and protected right, no question about that. Everyone has the right to have his or her say. But if we’re trying to live in a way that pleases God, maybe we need to examine how we voice our opinions, both online and in person.
When we talk or type or tweet, are we spewing garbage or giving grace?
Grace is unmerited favor. It is a kindness that isn’t necessarily deserved. When a driver gets crowded into the wall, but he says, “It’s no one’s fault, it’s just racing,” that’s giving grace to the guy who wrecked him. He is choosing the high road and dishing out kindness where it wasn’t warranted. God gives us His grace all the time.
On the other hand, garbage is worthless junk that doesn’t help anyone. At the track, a pesky hot dog wrapper might blow away or it might get stuck on a driver’s grille, causing him to overheat. Gunk on the track may irritate officials, drivers and fans by bringing out the dreaded “debris caution.”
In a similar way, online garbage can blow over or it can wreak havoc. Sometimes nasty comments are recognized as rubbish and ignored. But other times critical remarks stick in someone’s craw, and upset them to the point of overheating or unfollowing. Sometimes bashing and negativity affects a whole group of fans who support one driver or team and snarky comments lead to battered feelings.
Let’s look at how Jesus handled a tricky situation where people with strong opinions were spewing garbage. A group of men brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Him. The men had already judged this woman in their hearts and wanted to kill her with stones.
Jesus said to the mob, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, each man dropped the stone from his fist and went away.
Then Jesus asked the woman, “Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” He declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” *
Wow. That is grace in action.
Did you notice that Jesus did not let the woman off the hook for her sin? He acknowledged that she did something wrong and advised her to make a change in her life. But He treated her with kindness, not condemnation.
Some days you might be in the crowd, gawking at another person’s mistake. Some days you might be the accused, standing there vulnerable and alone.
When you mess up, which do you want, grace or garbage? Would you prefer a person who shrugs her shoulders and says, “Man, you’re a loser, just getting what you deserve.” That is spewing garbage. Or do you prefer a person who puts her arm around you and says, “This situation is a bummer, but I’m here for you while you learn from it and move on.” That’s giving grace.
The next time you form a critical opinion of someone, whether in person or online, pause for a moment. Whether you’re typing, tweeting or talking, you don’t have to throw verbal stones. In fact, you could choose to say something encouraging instead. Will you be a person who spews garbage or gives grace?
* Paraphrased from John 8:3-11
Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.
“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!