Monday, September 23, 2019

How To Know What To Say And When To Say It

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” —1 Peter 3:15

Where I worked as a “tent maker” while we waited for our next mission orders from the Lord, our work spaces were in cubicles.  Miniature offices with no doors.  So as you meandered through the cubicle maze to go to wherever you were going, you could not help but see what was in the work spaces.  Some things reflected the work each person was responsible for, while others were more personal in nature, pictures of family, cute sayings, memorabilia from previous positions held within the organization or some other.  Some times we would see a Bible laying on the desktop. In one particular cubicle, the person had a row of books about various religions.

I had been in meetings with this person from time to time and judged him to be a very intelligent person.  The nature of the work exposed me to a good number of very intelligent people, but this person stood out as a little bit brighter light bulb.  One day I mentioned the array of books and asked if he was interested in spiritual things. He replied, “Actually I am an atheist, I have the books to better understand those who are not.” Then he waited with a smirk on his face.  The books were really a way to engage people and convince them that there is no God.  He was waiting for all of the arguments about why he and those who followed religions other than Christianity were wrong.  Instead I replied, “I can appreciate that. Everyone is entitled to believe in the way they choose.” (Another way of saying, “God has given men and women free will.”) He looked a little disappointed at first and then smiled.  He was expecting an attack – me defending why I was right and he was wrong. Instead I responded with “gentleness and respect.” As a Christian, I had nothing to prove. I didn’t have to be defensive because he denied the existence of God. The Bible tells me that people without the Spirit of God cannot understand the things of God. I knew that the only convincing that this young man would yield to was the conviction from the Spirit of God. And that particular moment was not the time.  I could see that he was seeking truth. I suspected that he was aware of the “God-shaped void” in his life. He knew who I was, what I did when I was not making tents, and why I did it. He was well aware of Who I claimed as Lord and the salvation that faith in Him brings.  

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6

I think about that young man from time to time.  I most likely will never see him again – that is on this side of heaven should he come to faith.  One thing about those cubicles – they are not sound proof.  I often had conversations with other Christians in my cubicle and in theirs.  Well within earshot of this man’s workspace.  My point to you this morning is that we must be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit as we travel the path that the Lord has set our feet on. I know that I am very often but one of the steps in the faith journey of other people. Had he wanted to talk more about why I believe what I believe I could have and would have. But, at that moment, he didn’t. What he did take way from our encounter was that I cared about him as a person and didn't see him as just another “heathen scalp” I wanted to hang on my wigwam.  Very often people are more interested in whether you are true to what you believe than in the details of why you believe. But there are times, and there have been many times in my life, when they want to know what you believe.  Each and every moment in your life is a God moment.  We are ambassadors.  Our mission is to represent the Lord to the world. Oh that we would be found faithful in that mission.

In some translations in 1 Peter 3:15 the word “reason” is translated “defense”.  The trouble I have with that word choice is that we don’t have to defend God or prove to the world a Spiritual truth that they are incapable of understanding apart from having been sealed by the Spirit by faith in Jesus. But we should be ready to give a reason of our hope when the situation calls of it. To know when that is requires Spiritual discernment.  Oh there is so much more to write about that – but that will be for another time.

God Bless You My Friend

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