Victory over Vitriol

by Juan J. Guajardo


1 a: a sulfate of any of various metals (as copper, iron, or zinc); especially: a glassy hydrate of such a sulfate b: oil of vitriol

2 : something felt to resemble vitriol especially in caustic quality; especially: virulence of feeling or of speech

Examples of VITRIOL

  1. His speech was full of political vitriol.
  2. <a film critic noted for the vitriol and sometimes outright cruelty of his pronouncements>

Origin of VITRIOL

Middle English, from Anglo-French vitriole, from Medieval Latin vitriolum, alteration of Late Latin vitreolum, neuter of vitreolus glassy, from Latin vitreus vitreous

First Known Use: 14th century

Related to VITRIOL

Synonyms: acidity, acidness, acridity, acridness, asperity, bile, bitterness, cattiness, corrosiveness, mordancy, tartness, virulence, virulency, acrimony


Word usage and popular expressions, like habitual gestures and social fads, tend almost to take a societal life of their own and, like a snowball rolling downhill, grow in ground covered until someone with political pull decides to use a different term.

My friend has been accused lately of being vitriolic in expressing his opinion of opinions with which he disagrees. While not arguing for the wisdom, even for the appropriateness of all his comments, I do want us to consider a few thoughts regarding the issue.

Jesus told His disciples to follow His example and love one another. Yet He called a needy woman a dog and called Peter Satan. Later on, He told Peter to mind his own business and not be envious of John.

Peter told Christians to grow in brotherly kindness and love. Yet he himself was not exempt from being “rude.” He rightly called Ananias and Sapphira liars, then compared false teachers to brutish beasts and wells without water. He said they spoke great swelling words of emptiness.

The Apostle Paul admonished believers to develop gentleness in their character. But he is the same Paul who called Peter a hypocrite and called some Galatians fools. (We won’t talk about his wish that the Judaizers mutilate themselves.)

What do all these examples of would-be modern rudeness have in common? They were all words addressed to or referring to followers of God or members of the visible church. The point here is that sometimes God apparently does not mind our being less than politically correct, even with other believers.

Of course, our liberty must not be confused with libertinism. We have the freedom to please God and do His will, not please ourselves and impose our own. We must always be concerned with and aware of our witness, both in words and actions. Indeed, those spiritual among us must go to one of us who sins and gently restore such a one.

But in all our confrontation and restoration of brethren, let us be careful ourselves lest we end up in the same error. Let us not pick up someone else’s offense. Let us not become vindictive as we attempt to mete out church discipline. Let us not consider ourselves better than we ought. Let us go to such a one in love, thereby modeling what we wish him to be and do.

Like me, my friend has much transformation to undergo. Let us just be very careful that we not try to transform him into the image of ourselves but of our Christ.

This entry was posted in Socio-political, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Victory over Vitriol

  1. Jerry Lozano says:

    Great post!


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