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Saturday, April 19, 2014


"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 2:24-25

The Gospel teaches us the principles of kindness, courtesy, and consideration. I would like to share some of these principles in the context of our social media posts, significantly Facebook posts.

When defending the Truth in public social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs, are we forgetting those passages, the words of Christ that call us to humility, gentleness, compassion, and mercy?
"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."  (Hosea 6:6) 
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  (Micah 6:8).  

Are we conducting ourselves worthy of the Gospel of Christ?
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  (Ephesians 4:1-3)

There is a way to express the Truth and our convictions without bearing emotional hostility.  Our choice of words may communicate an attitude that contradicts the character of Christ and reflects on Him very poorly. Why should we, as Christians, be surprised at how non-believers live their lives and their different standards since they do not know our God or His ways?  They are like sheep without a shepherd.  

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd."  Matthew 9:36.  

When defending the Truth, one must exercise meekness and fear,
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."   I Peter 3:15.  

We, Christians, are to be Christ-like at all times. We are to honor everyone if we indeed fear God,
"Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."  I Peter 2:17.  
We must be clothed with humility,
"and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  I Peter 5:5.

The letter of Jude exhorts us "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."  Notice that the words "earnestly contend" is translated from the Greek word "epagonizomai," which means "agony."  Agonize earnestly and urgently for the faith.  "The faith" here implies a body of teaching, which is what we live and labor for as Christians.  In other words, it is the sum of what we believe as Children of God.  Also, "contend earnestly" means how we should respond to that belief.  Hence we must contend for this faith which all Christians live under, because it is in conflict.  Contending for this system of faith means more than confronting error.  This phrase implies a calling.  The Christian is called to seek the Truth diligently.  Contending for the faith means seeking the Truth diligently,
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."  (Hebrews 11:6)

My question is, "how can one contend for something one knows nothing about?"  To be effective when contending for the faith, one must be prepared before the confrontation must take place.  It is terrible to contend for something we know little or nothing about.  This would render us ineffective! We must strive for, wrestle for, agonize for, compete for and finally defend the faith of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Notice that contending does not mean being contentious or quarrelsome.

Let us take to heart what the apostle Paul says,
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."  Galatians 5:22-23.  
He also exhorts us,
"to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all men."  Titus 3:2.  

Sadly, some Christians defend their faith poorly because they do not support their faith with the whole body of Jesus' teachings.  We must indeed contend, but we must also contend according to the divine design for Christian conduct.  We must be wise in that conduct!  Let us always remember that there is a proper and improper way from a Biblical perspective.

Christ speaks of love.  He models love.  He sacrificed for us to redeem us:  we who were lost in the brokenness of sin, Psalm 51.  I would much rather choose compassion, mercy, and love in place of harsh judgment, such as the Pharisees exercised in their times.

There is a passage that comes to mind which portrays Jesus when He saw the adulteress that was accused by the Pharisees.  He looked upon the broken woman with compassion. He looked her accusers in the eye and said, 
"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her... “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  
She said, 
“No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."  John 8:3-12.  
He had compassion!

Jesus repeatedly said,
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."   John 13:34-35
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12.  
The following passage has captured my heart:

"Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Matthew 9:10-13

Jesus, our holy Lamb of God, who was pure and spotless, who had the right to condemn sinners, chose not to humiliate them publicly. So who am I, a broken sinner who once walked in darkness like a lost sheep without Him and whose blood redeemed me of all my iniquities, that I should publicly humiliate others?

As we grow in Grace and the precious Wisdom of our Creator, we learn that “he who is forgiven much, loves much.”  We must learn the character of our Lord Jesus that when "He was reviled, did not revile in return; When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."  I Peter 2:21-25.

There are so few good shepherds in this lost world of darkness who would lead the lost sheep, the sinners, and care for the needs of their souls, teaching them gently the Truth that would set them free from sin, John 8:32.  Paul himself admonished us to “Honor one another and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Even as he honored the Roman guards, the pagans, and other secular people with whom he shared the love of Christ, the Gospel.  Are we to behave differently in our reaction toward sinners? They are like sheep without the great Shepherd, the Physician. This is not God in us.  Let's learn from the apostle Paul, who says:  "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..."  Philippians 2:5-11.

Yes, I dearly want to uphold the highest of my convictions and beliefs as my standard for living in Christ. I do not wish to exchange my convictions for the ones of those who differ from me. Yet, I am called to honor those others, who are also the image of God, with respect and dignity worthy of the same Grace or unmerited favor as He has shown to me,  
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."  Ephesians 2:8-9.  

Remember that we must speak the Truth in love, 
"but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ."  Ephesians 4:15.  

That does not necessarily mean we will cower and compromise the purity of the Truth.

Since I have tasted the kindness and mercy of the Lord, His Grace, my desire is to stand out among the crowd who call themselves Christ-followers, and to show affinity with His words, words of unmerited compassion, love, and forgiveness.  Let us examine our hearts, making sure that our teachings and defense of the Truth are done in love, showing patience and confidence yet kindly, neither rude nor arrogant.
"And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13:3-8.

Let us take to heart Paul's exhortation to Timothy when he commanded him to preach the word.
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."  II Timothy 4:2.  

He described “a servant of the Lord” as one who “must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition.”

"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."   II Timothy 2:24-25.

May God help us to live and be worthy of His Gospel as we seek to defend it.  May we understand that the Great Physician is here among us to heal those who are woefully ill, that our great Shepherd seeks those who are lost and gently restores them to the flock.  And so we should approach those He brings into our path in the same graceful manner as He did with gentleness, humility, and a servant's heart.


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