Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Be A Bully For God

How are you at handling conflict? Most of us are not very good at it and so try to avoid it. It is good to avoid conflict where possible but it is not always possible. Sometimes we have no choice but to face up to it and it is in those times I am wondering about. How do you handle those conflicts that cannot be avoided?

Many of us steel ourselves so that we can be protected against what is coming at us. Sometimes we allow anger to become our defense. We allow anger to become a wall that prevents anything from getting at us. But anger is also a weapon that causes injury. Conflicts do not have to end in hurt.

The problem with conflict is that we allow it to become personal. We keep getting in the way. A conflict does not have to be about us. We don't have to own it. It doesn't have to be part of us. We do not need to allow it to consume us or to even touch our heart. If we understood Jesus correctly we would know that there is nothing in this world that we value or that we should feel attached to. If we understood this then there would be a lot less hurt in conflict. People cannot offend us when our value and worth is not found in us but in Jesus alone. This is how Paul was able to instruct Timothy:

Be humble when you correct people who oppose you. (2 Timothy 2:25)

Everything is done in humility, even correction. The way this is possible is when we respect a person's right to choose. Some people say that they love people too much to respect their decision to reject Jesus. Funny, God has done everything he can to rescue us and his love for us is of far greater worth than ours for people, but he leaves the choice to us. He will never force his will upon us, but we must understand there is a day when we will face the consequences of our decisions. This is what people need to understand but we must it explain it with the same attitude as God's; we have to respect a person's right to choose.

I know we love people and we want them rescued from the destruction of hell. We have the truth and we want to convince people but forcing them into something is wrong and will not last. It is not enough to pray a prayer; it has to be the conviction of the heart. The only way we can obey God is through love. The only way repentance is sincere is through love. The only way we can work out our salvation daily is through love and love does not happen when someone is forced into something that they are not convinced of.

Salvation does not belong to us; it is the work of God. We are only messengers, conveyors of the good news, and trophies of God's grace. Arguing with someone over salvation will not work. Becoming angry and shouting at someone about their actions and attitudes will do nothing but convince them you are a bully. Read Paul's instructions to Timothy and see who is actually responsible for touching the heart and mind of the person you are speaking with:

Be humble when you correct people who oppose you. Maybe God will lead them to turn to him and learn the truth. They have been trapped by the devil, and he makes them obey him, but God may help them escape. (2 Timothy 2:25-26) 

We have the responsibility to always present the truth but it is God who changes the hearts of men. So we speak the truth in humility, avoiding senseless arguments, presenting Jesus and allowing the Spirit to do the rest. We must go. We must present. We must tell others, but do it with an attitude that pleases God.

God does not need bullies. He does not need those who will allow their emotions to control their mouth. He needs warriors, controlled by the Spirit who are willing to go anywhere and speak to anyone about Jesus, in humility and love. If people decide not to listen, it is their decision. Salvation is by the conviction of the Spirit. He will use your words that he gives to you to speak but he will not use your persuasion. Just speak the truth plainly and allow the Spirit to do the rest. Don't take their rejection personally. It is not you they are rejecting. Trust God in this as you trust him in everything else.

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