Terminal language is a common part of
human vernacular, at least in my experience in
the English-speaking world. Children use it all
the time (see what I did there?). “She never
gets in trouble!” “Nobody likes me.” “You take
his side every time!” But terminal language is
not reserved only for children and their
perceived sufferings. Adults use it, too. Often it
appears in disagreements between spouses,
“You never used to treat me this way.”
“Everything I do is for this family.” “All you can
think about is yourself.” “Not once have you
ever . . .” Ad infinitum (see what I did there?).
Terminal language can be useful, but it rarely is.
Paul uses terminal language from time to
time. In almost every case, he uses it as a
challenge to the people of God to live more like
Christ. While we typically use it in exaggerative
ways, I do not believe that the apostle does so.
“Let us do good to everyone” (Gal 6:10). “See
that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but
always seek to do good to one another and to
everyone” (1 Thess 5:15). “Repay no one evil
for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable
in the sight of all” (Rom 12:17). “Live peaceably
with all” (Rom 12:18). Paul finds appropriate
usage of terminal words. He uses them to make
a point about living a life in Jesus.
In Christ, we are not given the option of
picking and choosing who receives God’s love
and care and who does not. God does not grant
us the luxury to treat with disdain or to be
dismissive toward those with whom we
disagree, or toward those who are different from
us—regardless how that difference may
manifest itself. On the contrary, we are to reflect
to everyone the love of Christ.

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