Where suspicion is a reasonable assumption that something’s wrong in an another individual, cynicism is a reflection of something wrong in the “assumer.”
2 Samuel 10:3: the Ammonite leaders said to Hanun their lord, “Just because David has sent men with condolences for you, do you really believe he’s showing respect for your father? Instead, hasn’t David sent his emissaries in order to scout out the city, spy on it, and demolish it? ”
I remember working along side a minister years ago who was very gifted in a number of ways. I was glad for him to be a part of our mission. Over time, however, he began to miss appointments or was late in arriving at a scheduled time. He wouldn’t return calls and when we would finally connect, he would offer excuses that seemed more elusive than reasonable.
Unfortunately, I can recall several occasions in the past when I have become suspicious of Christians.
The root of suspicion is suspect. Its definition is “to believe to be guilty, false, counterfeit, undesirable, defective, bad, etc. with little proof.” Proof is the key word here. Suspicion is based in some aspect of evidence or at least bits of apparent truth that could very well come together as proof.
That’s different than what we see here in this passage. This seems to be mere cynicism. To be cynical is simply to “distrust the motives of others.” It’s non-direct and non-specific. Where suspicion is a reasonable assumption that something’s wrong in an another individual, cynicism is a reflection of something wrong in the “assumer.” In this passage, cynicism in Hanun’s leadership is spread to him like a contagion with no basis in reason or evidence. The result is the humiliation of David’s men who came in truth and kindness and then the response of David which is tragic for Hanun and his people. The devil certainly had his way in cynicism.
That’s why there’s no place for it in the body of Christ. But we all see it from time to time. Why? Most of the time, cynical Christians are hurt ones. Oh! That the enemy of our souls had some shade of kindness in him that he wouldn’t kick us when we’re down, take advantage of us when we’re injured. But he’s void of kindness. When the Christian is injured in his or her heart, the enemy takes full advantage of the moment to plant the seed of cynicism, which when fully grown, yields the fruit of non-specific, non-directed doubt and distrust.
But what about suspicion? Can we be suspicious of Christians? That’s a more difficult question.
Take a look at John 2:24. Jesus would not entrust himself to man for He knew what was in man. Jesus had a reason to be suspicious of man’s intent because he knew what was in the heart of man. Greed, lust, envy, hatred and every other thing that stem from the obsession with “self.” But hasn’t the Christian died to self? Isn’t it the Christian who no longer lives, but Christ in him? If that is truly the case, then there is no place for suspicion in the body of Christ, for Christ would never suspect Himself!
Unfortunately, some who claim His name are not of Him or filled with His Spirit. How do we know? Fruit. But we all know Christians (and “Christians”) who have at one time or another borne worldly rather than godly fruit, myself included. What should we do? Pray that God will empower us with His love and true concern to push our suspicion to action and address it with that one we consider our brother or sister. If not, love is eroded, pain is inflicted, and we might just become cynical.