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Showing posts with label Pastor Chris' Paraphrase. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pastor Chris' Paraphrase. Show all posts

Monday, November 5, 2018

Day 15 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs

Day 15  You are what you eat and you become what you consume.  You will reflect the ideals of people you hang around, books you read, shows you watch, and music to which you listen.  You can choose to consume garbage or you can choose food that will nourish your mind and spirit.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 15:2 & 14
2 Wise people make you want to know even more, but idiots spew out stupidity.

14 A truly wise person always tries to learn more, but fools fill up on whatever silliness is available.

Everyone needs to indulge in a piece of cake now and then, but it's not healthy to eat cake for dinner everyday.  What you put into your mind is just as important. Put junk in and junk will come out. Fill yourself with wisdom and knowledge and wisdom and knowledge will come out.

"Holy Spirit, make us hungry for wisdom and knowledge and help us to choose spiritual food that is healthy and wholesome.  Help us to seek knowledge in the things we read and watch and to which we listen so we may share Your wisdom beautifully. Amen."

Read Proverbs Chapter 15

New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 15
Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a [a]harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge [b]acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
4 A [c]soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it [d]crushes the spirit.
5 A fool [e]rejects his father’s discipline,
But he who regards reproof is sensible.
6 Great wealth is in the house of the righteous,
But trouble is in the income of the wicked.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
But the hearts of fools are not so.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
10 Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof will die.
11 [f]Sheol and [g]Abaddon lie open before the Lord,
How much more the hearts of [h]men!
12 A scoffer does not love one who reproves him,
He will not go to the wise.
13 A joyful heart makes a [i]cheerful face,
But [j]when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
14 The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a [k]cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the [l]fear of the Lord
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17 Better is a [m]dish of [n]vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
19 The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him who lacks [o]sense,
But a man of understanding walks straight.
22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they [p]succeed.
23 A man has joy in an [q]apt answer,
And how delightful is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the wise
That he may keep away from [r]Sheol below.
25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.
26 Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord,
But pleasant words are pure.
27 He who profits illicitly troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 [s]Bright eyes gladden the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.
31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
32 He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires [t]understanding.
33 The [u]fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility.
a.    Proverbs 15:1 Lit painful
b.    Proverbs 15:2 Lit good
c.    Proverbs 15:4 Lit healing
d.    Proverbs 15:4 Lit is the crushing of the spirit
e.    Proverbs 15:5 Or despises
f.     Proverbs 15:11 I.e. the nether world
g.    Proverbs 15:11 I.e. place of destruction
h.    Proverbs 15:11 Lit sons of Adam
i.     Proverbs 15:13 Lit good
j.     Proverbs 15:13 Lit in sadness of heart
k.    Proverbs 15:15 Lit good
l.     Proverbs 15:16 Or reverence
m.   Proverbs 15:17 Or portion
n.    Proverbs 15:17 Or herbs
o.    Proverbs 15:21 Lit heart
p.    Proverbs 15:22 Or are established
q.    Proverbs 15:23 Lit answer of his mouth
r.     Proverbs 15:24 I.e. the nether world
s.    Proverbs 15:30 Lit The light of the eyes gladdens
t.    Proverbs 15:32 Lit heart
u.    Proverbs 15:33 Or reverence
Proverbs 15
1 A gentle response cools down red hot anger, but hurtful words make people mad.
2 Wise people make you want to know even more, but idiots spew out stupidity.

3 The Lord Jehovah sees everything, everywhere; He keeps an eye on both the good and the evil.

4 Healing words bring life, but deceitful ones destroy.

5 A fool rolls their eyes when their parents try to teach them, but a smart person is careful to listen and learn.

6 Godly people’s homes are full of precious things, but trouble is all the ungodly get.

7 Wise people give great insight; fools have none to give.

8 Even an expensive offering given by an ungodly person is disgusting to Jehovah, but He delights in the simplest of prayers offered by an honest man.

9 The way ungodly people live disgusts Jehovah, but He loves people who chase after righteousness with all their heart.

10 Doctrines and discipline seem harsh to those who abandon the right path, but a person who hates correction will die.

11 If God knows everything that happens in the underworld of the dead, don't you realize He knows every secret in your heart?

12 People mock because they can’t stand to be corrected; they don’t want to be around someone who knows what’s really going on.

13 A light and thankful heart makes you smile, but a heavy heart leads to a broken spirit.

14 A truly wise person always tries to learn more, but fools fill up on whatever silliness is available.

15 Life is hard for poor people, but a light and thankful heart always has more than enough.

16 It’s better to revere God and have just a little than to have lots of stuff and lots of trouble.

17 It’s better to eat Brussels sprouts and cabbage with people you love than a juicy steak in a room full of hate.

18 A hot-headed man throws fuel on fiery angry, but a patient man lets it burn out.

19 Briers grow over the trail of lazy people, but those who walk straight have a clear path to follow.

20 A smart son makes his daddy proud, but a stupid one despises his mother.

21 Morons are delighted by immaturity, but intelligent people walk the straight and narrow path.

22 Your plans fall apart if you don’t talk to people about them, but when you get lots of advice you succeed.

23 It pleases everyone when a person gives just the right answer; it’s so good when someone says the perfect thing for the occasion.

24 The road of life rises gently for those who are careful to follow it, leading them further and further from death down below.

25 God tears down an arrogant person’s house, but He protects the property lines of those who are humble and in desperate need.

26 Jehovah hates what evil people think about, but honesty is beautiful to Him.

27 People who cheat and hurt others to get ahead make problems for their own family, but those who ignore bribes will live.

28 People who live right think carefully about what they say, but the ungodly spew out evil.

29 To ungodly people, Jehovah is out of sight, out of mind; but He understand every word of every prayer of those who live right.

30 A cheerful smile lifts your spirit and good news puts you at ease.

31 A person who listens and learns life’s lessons will be among the smartest people on the planet.

32 People who refuse to listen only hurt themselves; you start to understand the heart of everything when you pay attention to constructive criticism.

33 You gain great wisdom when you revere Jehovah; only the humble will be honored.

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Day 9 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Devotional

Day 9  One wise choice leads to another.  One foolish choice leads to another.  Make your choices carefully. And if you realize you've made some mistakes, turn quickly and run to Jesus and beg him to help back on the right path.  And listen carefully to those who invite you to their table.

Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 9:4-6
“Come in here, little children!”  To everyone with some sense and potential she says, “Come dine with me!  Leave your childish life behind.  It’s time to mature and learn how to handle yourself.”

The other choice in verses 16-18 sounds like the trailer for a horror movie:

“Come on in, little children!”  To fools who who still need to learn, she says, ”Forbidden fruit and hidden pleasures savored secretly are so sweet.”  But they don’t know it’s a house of rotting corpses.  Her guests are dining in the depths of Hell.

"Jesus, forgive me for the ways I have turned my back on goodness and common sense, chasing happiness of my own making instead of yours.  Save me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may have the good sense to dine with Wisdom and not Folly from this day forward.  Amen."
Read Proverbs Chapter 9
New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 9
Wisdom’s Invitation
1 Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
2 She has [a]prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;
3 She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:
4 “Whoever is [b]naive, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks [c]understanding she says,
5 “Come, eat of my food
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 “[d]Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.”
7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets [e]insults for himself.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
13 The [f]woman of folly is boisterous,
She is [g]naive and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the doorway of her house,
On a seat by the high places of the city,
15 Calling to those who pass by,
Who are making their paths straight:
16 “Whoever is [h]naive, let him turn in here,”
And to him who lacks [i]understanding she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet;
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the [j]dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
1.    Proverbs 9:2 Lit slaughtered her slaughter
2.    Proverbs 9:4 Lit simple
3.    Proverbs 9:4 Lit heart
4.    Proverbs 9:6 Or Forsake the simple ones
5.    Proverbs 9:7 Lit a blemish
6.    Proverbs 9:13 Or foolish woman
7.    Proverbs 9:13 Lit simple
8.    Proverbs 9:16 Lit simple
9.    Proverbs 9:16 Lit heart
10.  Proverbs 9:18 Lit departed spirits
Proverbs 9
A Feast At Wisdom’s House
1-3 Wisdom built a home; she carved out seven perfect pillars. She’s prepared meat for the feast, mixed up the cocktails, and the table is all set.  She’s sent out her hostesses with a message to everyone in town: 
4-6 “Come on in, little children!”  To fools who who still need to learn , she says, “Come for dinner!  Leave your childish life behind.  It’s time to grow up and learn how to handle yourself.”

General Truths
7-12 If you try to teach a scoffer, they’ll just insult you; arguing with ungodly people will blacken your eye or your soul.  So don’t try to teach a scoffer who is determined not to believe; they’ll just be your enemy. Save your arguments for those wise enough to listen and they’ll love you for it.  Devote yourself to the wise and they’ll get even wiser.  A godly man will get smarter if you teach him.  Wisdom all starts with reverence for Jehovah; knowing the Holy One gives you insight into everything.  “I will multiply your days and add years to your life.”  So live wisely and you will reap the benefits.  If you remain a scornful skeptic all your life, you’re the one who suffers.

The Feast of Foolishness
13-15 The Foolish Lady--Wisdom’s arch-nemesis--is loud and obnoxious.  She’s naive and empty-headed.  She sits on her porch or the important places in town, talking to everyone she sees doing their business:
16-18 “Come on in, little children!”  To fools who who still need to learn, she says, ”Forbidden fruit and hidden pleasures savored secretly are so sweet.”  But they don’t know it’s a house of rotting corpses.  Her guests are dining in the depths of Hell.

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Preface to Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Devotion

My first Bible paraphrasing project was a study of Gospel passages about the birth of Christ. The Birth of Christ was so rewarding I wanted to do another. I chose the book of Proverbs for my second project for several reasons.

First of all, Proverbs is quite a bit longer and more challenging than the birth narratives of Christ. This paraphrase of Proverbs is at least eight times longer than The Birth of Christ. However, the challenge is more than just the length. The witty, symbolic, and poetic meanings in Proverbs are far more difficult to translate than the narrative stories of Christ’s birth. Yet, having already successfully accomplished the easier project, I wanted something more challenging.

Second (and most important), I need more practical wisdom in my life. Wisdom is more than education. It’s more than book knowledge. It’s far more than knowing things. Wisdom is even more than knowing right from wrong. I have known wise people who were not very intelligent (and perhaps a few who were not even very noble). Yet, a truly wise person seems to have an uncanny ability to do the right thing in the right way at the right time. Who wouldn’t want more of that kind of wisdom? Proverbs teaches it and we can grow in this wisdom as we spend time with God while we read, study, and live out the Proverbs in these pages daily.

There is a third reason I chose the book of Proverbs. The book has a nice symmetry that lends itself to daily devotion. My friend, Tom Kazniki (who has since passed away), was the first person to point out to me the symmetry in Proverbs. There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs and thirty-one days in most months, making a natural rhythm to read one Proverb each day of the month. That was Tom’s daily devotion. I have followed his pattern as I studied Proverbs over the last year.

A Word About Translations and Paraphrases
I should add a short explanation about the difference between a Bible translation and a Bible paraphrase. A good translation starts with the most ancient and accurate copies of the biblical manuscripts available in the original languages and then carefully evaluates the differences and translates them into English (or whatever language is desired). Emphasis is on accurately translating the words and meanings of the original authors into English. A translation is far more accurate and reliable than a paraphrase. The struggle of the biblical translator is that words and phrases from ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic do not always translate directly into English. For instance, Jesus and his father Joseph are called carpenters. In the original Greek, Mark 6:3 calls Joseph a 'tekton'. A tekton is a builder, usually of houses. Most houses today are made of wood so it makes sense to translate 'tekton' as carpenter. But in Jesus day, a builder of houses usually worked in stone or mud and there wasn't much wood around with which to work. So maybe it might be better to say Jesus and Joseph were stone masons, but that doesn't really get it either. And this is just one of the easy translation problems. The work of translators can get really, really tricky. Add to this that other languages use words in different orders than the way we use them in English. For example:
  • In English, the verb follows immediately after the noun.
  • In German the verb at the end of the sentence comes.
  • Appears the verb in Greek at the beginning of the sentence.
So, translators can't translate the Bible word for word from the original language to English or we wouldn't be able to understand it. Translators have to strike a balance between making the translation as accurate as possible and as readable as possible. Modern translations fall somewhere between two ideals. There is the word for word translation, which tries to keep everything as literal as possible and sacrifices readability for accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum is a thought for thought translation, which tries to translate the thought or idea and sacrifices word accuracy for readability and to make the passage easier to understand.

With a paraphrase, the author takes a translation of the Bible and puts it into his or her own words. The author of a paraphrase usually does not start with the Bible in its original languages--Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. It is more common for a paraphrase to come from an English translation that is rephrased into the author's own words. My process was to compare a passage from Proverbs in several English versions (NRSV, NASB, KJV, NLT, NIV, and YLT) and then rephrase the passage according to how I would say it in my own words. Often, I looked up the meaning of the original Hebrew words my Strong’s Concordance to better understand what I thought the author was trying to say so I could try to put that in words that make sense to us today. However, a paraphrase does not do the more difficult and scholarly work of studying all the most ancient fragments, manuscripts, and copies of the Bible that exist in their original languages and translating the Bible into English. Therefore, a paraphrase is not as accurate as a translation. A paraphrase can be helpful in seeing the Scripture from a different perspective or shedding more light on a passage, but we should never rely on a paraphrase to replace or change the meaning of a passage. A translation is just more accurate and reliable than a paraphrase in almost every aspect. Furthermore, the risk of a paraphrase is that it can introduce the author's own ideas, perspectives, theology, and bias into the Scripture.

The New Living Translation is one of my favorite translations of Scripture. I value it’s thought-for- thought style for easy reading and understanding. Furthermore, the creators of the NLT compiled an impressive and diverse team of translators to guard against theological bias into their version. However, for this project, I chose to feature the New American Standard Bible (NASB) because it is a strict word for word translation that seeks to render the original passages as literally as possible. The NASB’s translation style leads to one of the most accurate translations of the Bible, but it can also make passages more difficult to understand for the contemporary reader. The NASB was the logical choice to parallel my paraphrase. You can read a very accurate and reliable Bible translation in the left column and look to my paraphrase to shed more light in the right column.

I would like to make several acknowledgements. First of all, I want to thank my Lord, Jesus Christ, who continues to lead and speak to me as I study His Bible. His Word is alive and powerful. I am blessed every time I dig deeply into it. My journey through Proverbs has been no exception. It has brought me closer to Christ as I walked with Him through Proverbs every morning.

Second, I am thankful to the congregation of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. Their support enables me to earn a living as I pursue the Lord and share His guidance with as many as I can. What a blessing and privilege to do something I love and live out my calling as a child of God and a minister of the Gospel. Working as their minister gives me the time and encourages the discipline needed to complete projects like this paraphrase. I am very grateful.

I also want to acknowledge the many people who read my daily paraphrase postings on social media. Their words of affirmation spurred me on to continue and expand my work, knowing my own discoveries were an encouragement to others as well. It brought me joy to share my personal journey with a wider community of faith.

Finally, I want to acknowledge my amazing wife who’s honesty, love, and support are a deep blessing and constant encouragement. The thoughts, prayers, and paraphrases in these pages were mostly written early in the morning after we both had a cup of coffee. We would sit together on the couch of our living room together for a few minutes to start the day. Then, I would begin my study as she went to get ready for work. Dressed in her nursing scrubs, she would head off to the hospital NICU to serve her tiny little patients and their parents as I typed on the computer. She is a blessing to so many and especially to me.

Monday, March 26, 2018

As Sheep Among Wolves, part 4 - Listening vs. Scoffing

            On Sunday, we had a confirmation ceremony at my church.  Three young "confirmands" completed a six-week course on the basics of Christianity and then chose to publicly confirm their faith in Jesus Christ in front of our congregation on Palm Sunday.  I was so proud of these three young people between the ages of 11 and 12.  They were very attentive throughout the course--listening and learning. 
            Jesus said we should emulate the faith of a child (like my confirmands who were so attentive to learn and accept Jesus by faith).  Their attitudes are quite a contrast to the religious leaders when Jesus rode into Jerusalem the week before Passover.  You can read the full Palm Sunday story here in John 12:12-19.  Although crowds of children and ordinary people were amazed by Jesus' teachings and the miracles (even raising Lazarus from the dead after he'd been in a tomb for four days), the religious leaders scoffed.  They couldn't or wouldn't believe in Jesus.  Even though they espoused to worship and serve God, they dismissed God's Son as a fraud.
            Jesus knew there would be many who scoff at our faith. It doesn't matter to them that we have experienced the life changing power of God or that our faith in Jesus has changed our lives forever for the better.  They will still scoff and dismiss us and our beliefs.  Many will even labor to destroy us because they feel threatened by how we live and what we teach.  Always remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:16-20; we are sheep living among wolves.

Matthew 10:16-20
16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.[a] 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

The Amazing Rise of Christianity and the Scoffers Who Dismiss It
            Though the religious leaders of Jesus day tried to get rid of Jesus and then his followers, Christianity grew exponentially.  The persecutions, arrests, and murder of early Christians only caused believers to move to new cities where they persisted in teaching people about Jesus Christ and more and more people became followers.  The Christian faith would have died with it's leader Jesus if it was only of human origins.  Since, however, it was God's plan for His people, the Christian faith endured and today more people follow Jesus than any other religious leader.
            There always have been and always will be those who feel threatened by true Christian faith and just want to explain it away.  Even today, when a passionate church or Christian movement grows rapidly, there are scoffers who try to blow it off saying, "There's nothing to it.  It's just a fad and it will fade away."  When John Wesley led a revival of the Church of England in the 1700s, people dismissed the early Methodist movement as a bunch of religious fanatics.  However, people's lives were truly changed.  Drunks put away their liquor, thieves became honest men, Christians gave to the poor, visited the sick and dying and those who were in prison.  The whole fabric of society in England and America was changed for the better as Christians took their faith in Jesus seriously and loved God and their neighbor with their whole hearts.  Yet even then, there were people who scoffed; and there are people who scoff at vital Christianity today too.  "There's nothing to it," they say.  "They're just a bunch of religious fanatics and hypocrites."
            Proverbs, the book of God's wisdom, teaches again and again that scoffing is the enemy of true wisdom.  We must guard ourselves and maintain a childlike faith and not become scoffers like the religious leaders of Jesus day.  So in this blog, I want to examine the difference between scoffing and listening.

Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 13:1 – A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a scoffer doesn’t even hear it.

Scoffing - Lus לוּץ or Liys - לִיץ
            No, I'm not talking about scoffing down your food!  The Hebrew word for scoffing (Lus or Liys) literally means “to make mouths at.”  Scoffing is to speak with a sarcastic tone, to deride, mock, or scorn.  Scoffing is like the stereotypical teenager rolling their eyes when their parents give a lecture because, you know, "my parents are dumb and know absolutely nothing."  When we scoff, we don't listen.  We've decided a person is not even worth listening to.  And so, we can't learn from them because we've already decided they have nothing worthwhile to offer.

Listening - Šâma' - שָׁמַע
            The opposite of scoffing in Hebrew is Sama.  It means to hear.  However, it's more than just detecting sound.  Sama means to hear intelligently, carefully consider, and to listen and obey.  The only way to learn is to listen, deeply contemplate what you've heard, and put it into practice.
            If we are to be truly wise in this wolf infested world, we've got to stop scoffing and start listening.  So I want to give you some practical advise on how to avoid being a scoffer.  Listen to these principles.  Remember and put them into practice in your life.

Practical Application
            First, always try to think the best of others and be respectful.  When you mock someone, you dehumanize them.  When you look at someone on the other end of the political spectrum and say (or think in your heart), "They're just a bleeding heart 'libtard' who doesn't know anything!", you are no longer thinking of them as a person.  They aren't a child of God to you anymore; they're just a label, an enemy on the wrong side of a war.  You do the same if you say (or think), "They're just a backwards thinking conservative clinging to their guns and religion."  You are scoffing at someone's deeply held beliefs and writing them off as unworthy of your mental attention and respect.  And if we go down that road too far, it doesn't take long before we arrive at genocide and holocaust. Once you stop seeing people as worthy of love and respect, it's a lot easier to just see them as problems to be eliminated.
            And here's the thing, mocking people will affect all your relationships negatively—even unintended ones.  When you mock your boss, your employees, your co-workers, or anyone you dislike or disagree with, it bleeds over into your relationships with people you really care about.  Soon you'll find you're being sarcastically disrespectful with your spouse, your children, and your friends.  You just can't seem to help it and you don't know why.  When a scornful spirit takes residence in your heart, it poisons everything that comes out even when you don't want it to.
            So be humble and empathetic.  Try to understand how others feel and why they think the way they do.  You don't have to agree with them or condone their actions, but you do have to care about them and love them.  You have to respect others if you want others to respect you and take you seriously.  People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

            Second, keep an open mind.  You can learn from anyone—even those you disagree with and those who are just plain wrong.  You don't have to agree with a person or point of view to learn it and understand it better.  And if you have learned an idea you disagree with, you have still learned something.  I have often found listening to someone I disagree with helps me better understand why I believe what I do.  Usually, I learn more from those I disagree with than those I do.
            There is a way you can be right and still be wrong.  Does that seem like a contradiction?  It's true, you can be right and still be wrong.  How?  Well, how you disagree is as important as why you disagree.  If you disagree and do so by belittling, disrespecting, or scoffing, you actions are wrong even if your ideas are right.  God doesn't want us to be scoffers--even if we believe the right things.
            One example of the right way to disagree is a time Rev. Billy Graham (a Christian evangelist) met with Woody Allen (a self-professed agnostic).  They had a delightful conversation about their opposing views on television several decades ago.  Graham disagreed quite frankly with Allen and clearly articulates his position and yet also does it with grace and love.  Graham makes it very clear that he loves and respects Woody Allen even though they disagree.  Allen obviously appreciates and respects Graham for his attitude.  You can watch the exchange on video here.
            Third, listen more and talk less.  Remember God gave you two ears and only one mouth, so you ought to listen twice as much as you talk.  Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 13:10 says, "People too proud to listen always get into drama, but those who listen to counsel wisely avoid it."  And Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 18:13 says, "Speaking about something before fully listening is just stupid and brings humiliation."
            You already know your point of view, but you only “think” you know someone else’s.  It’s not going to hurt you to set your own point of view aside for a few moments so you can really listen and understand someone else’s.  Just listening and truly understanding another's opinion (even if you deeply disagree) is an act of respect and grace that ought always to be part of the character of godly people.  And if it is, people are more likely to respect and listen to you.
            Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 15:5 says, "A fool rolls their eyes when their parent tries to teach them, but a smart person is careful to listen and learn."  Sometimes, when our heart is not right--when a sarcastic, mocking spirit is deeply imbedded in us (because of the topic or the relationship or our stage of life (teenager!!!  parents!!!))--it’s best for us to just keep silent.  If our heart's not right, no matter what we say, it’s gonna come out wrong.  Our tone will be wrong.  Our body language will betray a mocking spirit even if we aren’t aware of it.  So, just keep silent. Pray about it.  Ask God to help you give the Holy Spirit time to change your heart so your words (when you finally do speak) will flow from a pure heart and not a scoffing spirit.
Let's Change Our World by Letting God Change Our Hearts
            Our world is full of mockers, scoffers, and sarcastic, scornful attitudes.  The last thing we need is for Christians to be the same way.  Perhaps, Jesus is calling you to repent of your scoffing, so you can listen and learn and become more Christ-like than you are today.  I know He's calling me.