Is cynicism ever healthy?

The other day I wrote about the quiet day I took a few weeks ago. Something else which came from the day was recognising in myself a dose of cynicism which isn’t always healthy. That led me to wonder if cynicism is ever healthy? Cynicism itself is a whole philosophy from the time of the ancient Greeks. Today, dictionary definitions include ‘scepticism’, ‘pessimism’, ‘doubt’, ‘mistrust’ and ‘disbelief’, words which often come into play when faith is being questioned. My cynicism is often about the world around me.

As I continued to ponder the issue, the Bible text which came to me was Jesus’ words to his disciples: ‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves’ (Matthew 10:16). I think Jesus was advising his disciples to be worldly-wise without buying into the ways of the world. Perhaps a little dose of cynicism is necessary for that; a counter-balance to naivety.

I think where cynicism tips to the unhealthy is where it stymies new ideas and creativity. There’s a difference between asking realistic questions and being completely negative when something new is proposed, which is something I clearly need to bear in mind!

Have you ever spent time noticing what is within you. Ask God to show you. It might be something God is asking you to guard against or it might be a an untapped gift.

Published by Angie Allport

Methodist minister

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