Cynicism – An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. Cynical people are angry, disappointed, resentful, and mistrustful of those they feel should be acting in their best interest.
I like the old King James word – “scoffers”. A scoffer speaks with derision – he is full of ridicule, mocking, and jeering laughter.
Cynical people have lost hope of ever making a difference. Cynicism becomes their coping strategy for feeling powerless to effect change.
Can you think of an environment in your life in which you have lost any hope of ever seeing a desired change?
Maybe at work? In politics? In your church? In another culture? In your family? In a difficult relationship?
Did you have unmet expectations? Were your expectations reasonable?
There is a very interesting example of cynicism in 2 Kings 7. It reads:
“It happened as the man of God (prophet Elisha) had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” The royal officer had said to Elisha the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God Elisha had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” And that is exactly what happened to the royal officer, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.” (vs. 18-20)
See, the royal officer was not asking an honest question “How?” but instead making a cynical retort equivalent to “There’s no way that would ever happen.” But it did, and the royal officer suffered an immediate judgement.
The way I see it, there are two main issues.
First, there is the issue of what we SAY when we think a situation is hopeless. We mock, laugh, and scoff. Cue rolling of the eyeballs.
The second issue is what we BELIEVE. Why do we think something is hopeless? Do we not serve the God who made the universe and all that is in it? As Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
We ought never lose hope! Easy to say, harder to embrace in the depths of our being.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” 2 Cor 2:9
Try not to be cynical today – ask God to give you hope, and endurance for the days that drag on while nothing has changed (yet!).
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues