WHAT'S trash-talking? If you're a sports nut, as I am, you know what it is. Athletes sometimes try to scare each other by making aggressive or threatening remarks while they are competing. That's trash-talking.
Whether you play sports or not, there is another kind of trash-talker that can try to scare us. Sometimes it can sound like a voice in our thinking, saying horrible things. Sometimes it can be more a feeling than a voice. And sometimes the actions or words of others bother us or frighten us.
To me it's like the serpent the Bible tells us about in Genesis-- the one that tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church, talks about this snake in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says: ``Whence comes a talking, lying serpent to tempt the children of divine Love? The serpent enters into the metaphor only as evil. We have nothing in the animal kingdom which represents the species de-scribed,--a talking serpent,--and should rejoice that evil, by whatever figure presented, contradicts itself and has neither origin nor support in Truth and good. Seeing this, we should have faith to fight all claims of evil, because we know that they are worthless and unreal'' (p. 529).
And that's how this evil talker can be stopped--by seeing that its claims are ``worthless and unreal'' because God, divine Love, doesn't make or support them! The Bible, and especially Christ Jesus' life, shows us how we do this.
God sent Jesus to show us all who God is and what man in God's image is really like. But Jesus didn't have an easy time--far from it! Although the people who came to him needing healing in their bodies and hearts didn't give him a hard time, there were plenty of others who wanted to stop Jesus from teaching and healing. These were the trash-talkers, when it came to Jesus and his work. Instead of welcoming with great joy all that Jesus did in God's name, Luke's Gospel tells us, these an-tagonists said things about Jesus like ``He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils'' (11:15). Or they said he broke the rules by healing on the Sabbath day.
But Jesus didn't allow their talk to bother him or to stop him. He knew that God had sent him and that God would help him complete his work. What's more, he left us with some sure steppingstones that can help us face down trash-talking and trash-thinking in our lives. We can find them in the Bible in what's called the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew, chaps. 5-7).
Here Jesus speaks of love, of forgiveness, mercy, meekness, and humility, as well as many other Godlike qualities of thought. As we learn to think thoughts like this--and this is something we'll keep learning to do better all the time--angry or scary thoughts will not harm us. When trashy, angry talking happens, we can think instead about what Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount. Remembering ``Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth'' (Matthew 5:5), for example, is a prayer that can fill us with strength and love because the loving power of God is behind the words.
And God's love shining in our hearts and lives can stop the trash-talker, no matter who is doing the talking.