Thursday, November 13, 2014

Proper Response

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 (NKJV)

We have been looking at sharing the gospel and how we can do that in the right way.  Today is a continuation of witnessing without offending people. 

Instead of a response that puts down the other person or criticizes the enemy, Christians should use a gentle, humble explanation in tune with the attitude of Christ.

  1. First, Christians need an attitude of respect. Respect, not towards people necessarily, but toward God.  The Christian can answer gently or meekly because of his or her respect for God. Christians stand before God, who alone justifies them. Thus there is no need to defend or justify oneself before human opinion.
  2. Second, Christians need to keep "a clear conscience" that will result in "good conduct in Christ." It is no persecution for Christ if the Christian has broken some civil law or rule of God and so deserves the criticism being received, but if the conscience is clear one can stand confidently before God and indeed only good behavior will be there to slander.
  3. The "good conduct" is "in Christ." Good conduct flows out of and is determined by the Christian's relationship to Christ, that is, his or her union with Christ.  Christ, then, defines what good conduct is, and Christ is the power and motivation for good conduct in even the most provoking situations.
  4. Third, the result will be shame for the opponents. They do indeed "revile" or "vilify" the good conduct of. The whole situation is one of slander or rumors that reflect negatively on the Christian.  But the persecutors will not get away with their evil. They will be ashamed. On the one hand, they will be ashamed when others look at the actual behavior of the Christians and realize how groundless their rumors are. But, on the other hand, the coming judgment of Christ means that his primary focus is surely on their shame when they must give an account of their behavior before a Judge who knows the full truth. Here is the ultimate security of the Christian.
We have to remember that sharing our faith isn’t about making someone else feel bad about their life, behavior, or faith.  We want to lovingly show the difference in our lives because of Christ.  Letting them know that you are sharing because you love them and care about them is helpful in getting them to at least listen and consider your words.  Jesus will sell Himself.  The truth is its own defense and presented in love it is the most powerful witnessing tool of all. 

If we act differently than we say is right, we can kill our witness quick.  We are contradicting the gospel we are trying to spread. It gives Christians in general a bad reputation as well as the church.  Of course we are human and we don’t have to be perfect.  They do need to see us as real people and we stumble and fail at times but we try to live lives that glorify God and we recognize our sin as sin and can seek forgiveness.  

We can say things thoughtfully and carefully in love.  Ask Jesus to give you the right words and to help you say them in the right way.  If you think you have offended someone, apologize immediately and consider if it is a good time to end the conversation for now.  You have planted a seed, pray about it and give God some time to work on their hearts.  Don’t make it personal. Since our faith is such an important part of us, it is easy to get upset and defensive.  It is about God and His Church.  Keep the focus there. 

Scripture to Claim:

…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 2:25 (NASB)

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