Philippians 2:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Teresa Phillips
Teresa Phillips

Recession. Job losses. Spending cuts. Strikes. Pay cuts. Inflation. Unemployment. Homelessness. Repossession.

These terms are everywhere, all of the time. They're on people's lips; on people's minds; in parliament; in global discussions; on the TV and in the papers. As spending increases over Christmas, as unemployment gets uncomfortably close and the word 'recession' hovers over 2012 like an ebony cloud, a fairly bleak outlook has been created. So how, as Christians, should we behave and speak as one year draws to a close and an uncertain one begins?

I have been thinking about this for a while and pondering over what the Bible says. God has already said a lot that is relevant to these issues. I have come to the conclusion that the words that we speak are crucial in these times. The Bible says, 'do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky' (Philippians 2:14-15).

Yet, I have observed, within others and myself, a trend of dissatisfaction and frustration and a tendency to grumble and moan. I know that I have been guilty of voicing my complaints and frustrations amongst family, friends, colleagues and even social networking sites. The times we live in are challenging for Britain and it is natural that we should want to voice how we feel. Natural, but not necessarily helpful, to ourselves or each other. Constantly speaking out negative words about the political and financial condition of our society isn't making any of it any better. The challenge I find myself presented with, and the one I share with you, is, what do we do with all this negativity? What can we change our negative words into?

1) Positivity
The first thing we need to do is to seek to be positive and to encourage each other. The Bible says, 'we urge you, brothers and sisters...encourage the disheartened, help the weak' (1 Thessalonians 5:14).You may think being positive is trivial. But if you look at it from another angle, why be negative? How does this help the situation in any way? We need to talk positively, to fill ourselves with hope in a God who cares and loves us. We also need to be thankful. There is certainly much we can still be thankful for. Think about it. Did you eat something within the last 24 hours? Yes? Good. You see? You don't have to think about it for long.

2) Petition
Yours is a voice that is one of millions in the UK. You may not think it can be heard. However, lots of voices can be. Only you can make your voice heard and turn your negative words into a statement of justice. It is time to make a stand for what is right and moral. It's a time to use your vote, write a letter to your MP, follow the progress of local and national government and petition those in power who need to know what it is that the people of our country want and need. Instead of moaning about what you are unhappy about, make your words count to those who can make decisions.

3) Prayer
Finally, and most importantly, pray. We need to pray for our leaders, not pull them down. Those in the limelight are constantly under scrutiny and it is so easy to criticise. There are politicians who fight for bills and policies that I disagree with vehemently, and it is such a temptation to become angry and attack them with my words. This is not God's way; this is not love. The challenge is to recognise that God loves all of us equally and wants us to be united. We must pray that God will impart wisdom to those in power to make decisions and that He will help them with the difficult decisions they must make at this difficult time.

So, as we go into 2012, let's confront the negative words that seek to escape from our mouths and remember to talk positively, to petition and to pray, for the sake of our country. CR