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Cynicism was actually a form of Greek philosophy, the most famous Cynic being Diogenes who simply lived in a ceramic jar on the streets of Athens. I empathize and perhaps even envy him his ceramic jar.

However, cynicism in the modern context is, “a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.”

Wait, is “goodness of human motives” even a thing?? When did that start?! So you see, I totally resemble that remark and definition, too.

I am really of the mindset that a bit of cynicism is a good thing, a God given blessing, but too much of it can quickly become sin. I recognize the danger of too much cynicism in myself, and to some extent, the danger it presents to us as a culture at large.

To let go of one’s cynicism one has to be willing to take a risk and to be thought foolish or even, to actually be made foolish. I gave a gal 20 bucks a few weeks back simply in protest against my own cynicism. Naturally she had two small children, her boyfriend had left her, and she had no gas or milk for the baby. Her performance was not Academy Award material. At all.

The Lord whispered, “yes, but it’s not about her, it’s about you.” Twenty bucks is some cheap therapy and the Lord was right, I needed to deal with my own issues. In the process I was able to confront my fears of being taken advantage of, of having my emotions played, and of being scammed. Sure enough right after an older woman promptly declared, “you are so dumb,” to me, which I could only laugh and say, “yes, amen!”

Needless to say, I am not advising handing money over to scammers or abandoning all common sense. I’m just saying, what rules over us more, our fears of being thought dumb by others or doing what we know to be right? I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of years about the value of letting others think, “you are so dumb,” and simply doing what you know to be right.

That’s often what lurks beneath our cynicism, a fear of being tricked, deceived, exploited, and thought dumb. Well, another famous guy once wisely said, “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things…..”

We are really living in a world that has gotten so cynical it’s hard to even do satire anymore, and for good reason, too! There is ample evidence that we should probably be employing more skepticism than usual. The thing is, we can easily become blinded by our own cynicism, distrustful of everyone, and forever looking for the trick behind the treat.

I started to catch on to this truth when trying to celebrate marriage. I realize a lot of people have been hurt and struggled with relationships, but that shouldn’t mean we now no longer even believe in things like love, romance, family, marriage. Fidelity? Integrity? Faithfulness? Loyalty? Our cynicism tends to paint with a very broad brush and wipe out any potential good thing one might find in the world.

Also, if one no longer believes in something like loyalty, it is pretty unlikely one will ever act in a loyal manner. Our individual worldviews matter a great deal and an entire culture built by complete cynics always certain there is a man lurking behind the curtain deceiving us, cannot survive. We have to be able to take things at face value and to believe in at least the possibility of good things, of potential positive outcomes.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but we weren’t designed to be, “safe from all harm.” The modern world advertising, culture, politics, just comes at us 24/7 with these endless fear based messages about how “if you just do the right thing, you will be saved.” What is “doing the right thing?” Buying our product.

That’s a really secular message, one that has also plagued the church in subtle ways, probably for centuries. There are still numerous arguments going on about grace versus works. Sometimes it really is that bad as in, “buy our product and you will be saved.” Call me crazy, but I think Jesus is far more about, expend yourself. Take risks. Don’t always chose safety. Die to yourself, follow me. The goal is not really to buy a product and be saved, the goal is to spend everything you’ve been freely given.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says,  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

That right there is a full time job in the modern world. It is not so easy to be tenderhearted and forgiving in a world totally worthy of our unbridled cynicism. It is not a job for the faint of heart, let me tell ya.