CHURCH & MINISTRY
Confrontations in Witnessing
By Denise Baum
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mountain, honored his disciples for what they would suffer when identifying with him. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11). Jesus is encouraging his disciples to get excited about suffering for the sake of the gospel. It is a great honor to represent the Savior to our world. Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Those who share the gospel will experience opposition. Jesus is called a "stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense" (Romans 9:33). The testimony of our faith will be welcome to ready hearts. It will be offensive to those with hardened hearts:
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17Good behavior is so important. The life a one bearing testimony must reflect the message.
When it comes to rebuking someone, each situation needs to be scrutinized in the light of Scripture. Who is the voice for the gospel? Who is the one offended? What are the attitudes? What are the circumstances? Leviticus 19:17-18 says, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Another passage warns about rebuking a person who has no sense of respect. "A scoffer does not listen to rebuke" (Proverbs 13:1b). The same book tells us that "those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them" (Proverbs 24:25). Again, "It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:5).
Always pray about each confrontation. God will help you discern which action is the wisest for you to take. Be bold. "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). But be bold with mercy. "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness" (1 Timothy 2:24). Sometimes the Holy Spirit will have you speak out, like Stephen in Acts 7. He was blameless, yet his opponents stoned him to death for speaking out the truth. Sometimes you may be prompted to remain silent. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matthew 7:6).
It is usually wisest to wait for the Lord to act instead of reacting to the adversary. "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday" (Psalm 37:5-6). When you take the insults of those who are intolerant of the gospel, your humility and patience is proof that the gospel is real. Godly behavior is also a witness.
We do well to study the Lord Jesus for the best example to follow when encountering opposition for the sake of the gospel. He was fully God while living fully in the flesh. Though we are imperfect, we benefit by his example (Hebrews 2:14ff). He employed the power and authority of God the Father in rebuking evil and ordering demons to flee. He also stood defenselessly before his persecutors (Isaiah 53), accepting abuse and humiliation. He exposed hypocrites (Matthew 23), but he was gentle with sinners. Seek him for wisdom in every situation and continue to share the gospel with boldness and love.
Image Credit: Nell Moralee; "Stubborn."; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Current-Issues | Hardships | Ministry-Church | Sin-Evil | Witnessing-Evangelism
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