The controversial English poet, painter, and visual artistry pioneer, William Blake, said in one of his compositions: “As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.”1 In other words, to some, it comes naturally. It’s almost as though they were born with it, fly through it, and swim in it.
To have contempt for something means to feel that a person or thing is worthless and undeserving of consideration. Since contempt is an abstract concept, it is sometimes hard to describe but easy to detect. You can hear it in a person’s negative tone of voice, eye rolling as if what is said is of too little value to even talk about, and sarcastic remarks that are meant to invoke embarrassment and shame.
The Apostle Paul gives an excellent description of contempt in his Letter to the Romans.2 And King Solomon tells how contempt can be shown what a fool refuses to accept discipline.3 When you meet people like this, any advice or counsel seems to roll like water off a duck’s feathers. Jesus found this so prevalent among the Pharisees in His day.4
One of the worst characteristics we can have is to act contemptibly. Whenever you feel yourself taking on such an attitude, just remember this. There were two thieves on crosses next to Jesus on Calvary. One of them was contemptible, the other was submissive. The one went to Paradise with Jesus, and you can guess where the other one went. It’s up to you to make that decision. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, John W. Luce & Co., Boston, 1906, p. 19
2 Romans 14:1-23
3 Proverbs 15:5
4 Luke 18:9