"Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." (2 Timothy 2:22-26)
I hope that all of you have had a merry Christmas, and that the Lord has been blessing you through it!
Today, I am going to break the long-standing blogger's tradition of writing a post about the true meaning of Christmas. If you really want to know about that subject, look through my past posts about the Gospel. However, in spite of the possible disappointment which may be created as a result of not posting about Christmas, I will now turn to a somewhat unrelated subject.
Within the Church there is a powerful wave of folly existing in the hearts of the people. This folly is within each and every one of us, and everyone is guilty of it at some point or another. I am speaking of the folly of obtrusive bravery. This bravery, which is no bravery at all, is one which seeks to intrude in an unmerited way into a situation in order to bring about discussion about one's beliefs. For example, I would be exercising this foolishness if I walked onto the sidewalk holding a sign which says, "Turn or burn!", and screaming at random passersby through a megaphone, telling them that they are all heading for Hell. Some persons (aside from the ones being screamed at) would see this as immense courage, since it would certainly gain a massive amount of hatred directed toward me and the God which I am claiming to represent. However, this is utter foolishness, a "bravery" which comes from the Devil himself.
"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:13-17)
Wisdom which is from the Devil is aimed to bring about strife. It is not peaceable and gentle, but rather leads to a "courageous" obtrusiveness which causes people to absolutely abhor us and the God we serve. The fact of the matter is, we Christians are called to be gentle. Gentleness is the fruit, not of cowardice, but of holiness and Spirit-filled living. We are not fighting a war against mortals, but rather against demonic doctrines and the devilish rulers in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). However, far too often we act as if we were actually fighting against the men with whom we are speaking, as if being rude will force their hand to either accept or reject Christ.
Christian, we are called to a life of peace and gentleness. In ministering to those who may not be saved, or are saved and yet have misunderstandings about the basics of our faith (predestination for instance), we must never be obtrusive or harsh. If we do so, we must understand that a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1). If we are obtrusive and rude, we will cause strife, which destroys our testimony (for we are seen as mere bringers of strife and hateful) and makes it impossible for us to minister to others. Moreover, if we continue to act in such a rude manner (especially to those within the Body of Christ), the Bible declares that we must be thrown out of the Church because doing so will split the Church (Titus 3:10-11). Very harsh consequences for a very fleshly act.
"Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless." (Titus 3:1-9)
Again, we are called to a life of peaceful bravery, being at peace with all men if we are so able (Rom. 12:18). We must be like Christ, who was so gentle that He did not even reply harshly against His accusers (Matthew 27:12). Our calling requires us to suffer for doing good to all men, not being obtuse and feeling the consequences of it (1 Pet. 2:18-23). Realize that we don't have to be harsh, or intrusive in bringing the Bible to others in order to suffer as Christ did. Rather, all we must do is do good to men and preach the Word with peaceable bravery, for it is the content of the message which should anger people, not the foolishness of the speaker in the way he communicates it (John 3:19-21). Therefore, we are to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration to all men, even if they do not understand. We are here to win people's souls, not arguments (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
May the grace and peace of God be with you all.