Cynicism: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.
A recurring theme in the New Testament is that of hope. We are to have hope in the provisions and promises of God, the return of Christ, a glorious future and especially the great salvation that is given to us. The fifth chapter of Romans reminds us that our hope will not be put to shame because the love of God is working through us to accomplish our hope.
Sadly, too many of God’s children live a life devoid of hope. While they give mental assent to the contents of my previous paragraph, their general outlook on life is characterized by cynicism. As I have contemplated this, I have identified what I believe to be a few pitfalls that cynicism presents, that Christians should avoid.
1. It abandons hope.
As Christians we should live daily in the hope that I have already described. A person who has given up hope allows their faith to become an easy target. Romans 8 describes the strength of faith that a person who has hope can develop.
2. It pulls our focus from God to man.
Peter began to sink after he took his eyes off Jesus. While he was looking at the storm around him, it occurred to him that this was bigger than him. Those whose hope rests in politicians, doctors, lawyers, parents, family, friends or self will certainly see their hope eventually turn to cynicism.
3. It accentuates the negative.
While the concept of “positive thinking” may be a bit overblown at times, it is something that is vital to a Christian perspective on life. Paul reminds the Philippian believers to think on things that are lovely, pure, of good report, etc. It is hard to be cynical when one is contemplating the goodness of God.
4. It leads one to be judgmental.
By its very definition, cynicism assumes the worst about people and circumstances. It causes us to overlook our own flaws and concentrate upon the mistakes (either actual or imagined) of others. It will drive us to pass judgment upon the motives of others, even though we cannot see our own hearts, let alone theirs.
This is something that should never take place in the life of a Christian. James raises the question, “Who art thou, that judges another?”
5. Cynicism spreads.
Paul uses the analogy in Hebrews 12 that we should not allow a root of bitterness to spring up as it will cause many to become defiled. It is impossible for us to hold this negative perspective inside. A cynic will see himself as simply being “realistic”, better informed than others or simply caught up in the refrain of “same song, second verse.” Unfortunately, everyone around them will be exposed to the hopelessness that pours out of them.
Are we abandoning hope? Is our focus on man instead of God? Are we focusing on the negative and becoming judgmental of others motives? Is our cynicism spreading to those around us?
There is still hope. God’s grace is strong to deliver, not only from the power of sin, but also from the negativism of this world.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. I John 4:4