Sweet friends, I come here tonight with something on my heart that can be a touchy subject. But over the past few weeks, I’ve just had a knot in my stomach at times over the displays of bickering and, in some cases, hateful comments I have seen on social media over posts sharing controversial topics. Strangers sparring with words over subjects that are so much bigger than one post.
As someone who loves Jesus and wants everyone to know Him for themselves, I find myself thinking about how to express Biblical perspective and truth without coming across as judgmental and hypocritical, at the right time, in the right place, with the right words. I am no expert, and I mess up on the regular, but I wanted to share something the Lord has taught me over the years when it comes to sharing Jesus: our words will mean nothing if we have not earned the right to speak into someone’s life.
And what I mean by that is this: if there is no relationship, there is no respect for the convictions offered.
When I was teaching, I learned very quickly that if my students knew I truly loved them and believed in them, it changed the entire classroom dynamic in regard to rules and consequences if those rules were broken. At the beginning of the year, it was a guessing game as to how long it would take for each student to get to that point. Some who came from stable homes were quick to trust me. But others who had not known a consistent, unconditional love, or truly just had a longing to buck the system, took longer and were not willing to listen or accept my instruction at times.
It’s the same way in life, y’all. Relationships first. Sharing truth in love after, one person at a time.
We all sin. There is not one who doesn’t. But we are called to hold each other accountable as Christians and to share Jesus (and biblical truth) with those who don’t know Him yet. We cannot do either of those for someone if they don’t already trust that we truly care about them, love them, and want what’s best for them.
If those relationships are in place, when a difficult time comes, that person may come to us for advice. And there we can pray for the Lord to speak through us. And whatever the situation may be, we can be prepared to share truth. Not long ago, I had this conversation with a friend:
“Maggie, I don’t know what to do about this. I’m struggling so bad.” I know sweetheart, I’m so sorry you are hurting, but this is a great opportunity to see how much you need the Lord. He loves you so much. We try so hard to fill the void in our lives with so many things, but no man, woman, drug, amount of money, etc. can fill it the way Jesus can. I know you’ve been searching and trying to do things in your own strength, but we just can’t. I can’t make it one second without Him because I mess up every day. I’m praying for Him to make Himself real to you, and give you freedom from (this thing) that is keeping you from God’s best for you.
That friend knows I don’t agree with the choices she’s been making. But she also knows I love her in spite of them. My words didn’t change her actions completely through that conversation. But I know I planted a seed that the Lord can use to grow and hopefully collect a harvest later on.
2 Timothy 3:14 says, “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.” (italics mine)
If people know they can trust us because we speak from a place of love, they will listen, y’all. Let’s guard our words. Whether spoken or typed.
If there is truly a burden on our hearts for the lost, for those who don’t know truth, for those who need Jesus and just don’t know it yet, let’s be ever so careful to pray about voicing our convictions before we speak. For the Lord to speak through us with His words, in His timing, and for the person we are burdened for to have a tender, responsive heart.
“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26