The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Eternal Benefits of a Gentle Witness

By: Nathan Fox

The Wrong Way to Witness
Several years ago as a freshman at N.C State I saw something (or should I say someone) that has changed my perception on how to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ. On that day as I was walking through the main courtyard on campus, I heard a middle-aged man loudlyblasting people as they passed by, all in “the name of Jesus,” which were his own words.Intrigued by his yelling and ranting, I (along with a great crowd of people) began to assemblearound him to listen to what he had to say to each of us. Looking back now I realize I wasted 20 minutes of my life that I can never get back. What he said and how he said it has still to this day been etched into my mind in the most negative of ways.
As we were walking up, he was addressing an African-American male who just so happened to have dreadlocks. This “preacher” for Jesus told this dreadlocked student that he was going to hell for (and this is no exaggeration of words) “looking like Bob Marley.” This man insinuated that since this student looked like Bob Marley, he must have been a “pothead.” He told this student that since he was a “pothead”, he must have been a daddy of a baby somewhere.And if he was a daddy out of wedlock, then God was going to condemn him to hell. Left and right this man went on condemning people, and even got into verbal arguments with those whom he was accusing. Oh, he definitely spoke of sin; he made sure that each person was verbally assaulted about their shortcomings. But he never spoke of Jesus! He never told these people the cure to their sins! He never possessed a heart of love that is very much needed to reach people who are lost. As we will see, a heart of love is an absolute necessity in giving the Gospel.

Paul’s Heartfelt Witnessing
If you have been following my posts at all, you know that Paul has had a rough go of it. He has been beaten, assaulted, and ridiculed for following his faith. It is no different in chapter 24 of the book of Acts. Here we find Paul standing trial before the governor of the area, whose name is Felix. During this trial, Paul’s accusers are allowed to speak first on the matter. Theyproceed by calling the Apostle Paul a plague (5), a “creator of dissension” (5), and a man who “profanes the temple.” (6) In a nutshell, they wanted the Apostle to be punished for spreading the Gospel of Jesus in the synagogues.
There accusations are nothing new to someone who has been reading throughout the book of Acts, but I want us to take a look at Paul’s response to their allegations. I think in the following verses you will see the kind of man that Paul was as he witnessed to people. Paulclaims in verse 12 that he was not in the temple “disputing with anyone and he was not inciting the crowd.” He goes on to say in verses 16 and 17 that “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Now after many years I have brought alms and offerings to my nation…” Take a note of this please! Paul had every opportunity throughout his lifetime to blast into his accusers for their mistreatment of him as a Roman citizen. He had every opportunity to call out their sins against him throughout the years, but he never does. In all actuality, he does the complete opposite. He loves by bringing alms and offerings, even to those who have hurt him and done wrong to him. What a stark contrast to the guy I saw at N.C State, who blasted people he didn’t even know for sins they never did against him.
Going on, Paul says in verse 14 of chapter 24 in Acts that he worshipped God by worshipping Jesus. Even in this trial, this trying moment of Paul’s life, He makes mention ofJesus! In front of the governor, his accusers, and all else in the room, Paul gives them the greatest news of love that he can by speaking of Jesus! Oh he could have stood in there and lashed out loud against his accusers, but he stood in there and loved out loud to all people. And boy did it have an impact on people in that room. Look at the end of verse 26 in chapter 24. It says that “he (Governor Felix) sent for him (Paul) more often and conversed with him.” Now, what do you think the two of them could have been conversing about? Knowing Paul, there was always one thing at the forefront of his mind, and that was Jesus. I assume through my reading of the text that the Governor of the area was in constant conversation with Paul about Jesus. Think about that for a second; Paul had a profound impact for the Gospel, even in the political realm.And it was all because Paul never lost his heart of love for the people.

What it Means
There is so much impact from this chapter of Acts. In it, we see the proper attitude that we should have when we witness. We can see that in all his efforts Paul made it a priority to stand at peace with people, and in all things to present a message of love not only through word but through action. Should it be any different for us today? I would say absolutely not! Unlike that man at the beginning who drove people away from Jesus with his verbal abuse, I declare that we must present the entire Gospel out of love. When we speak to someone regarding their sin, tell them with love. This does not mean we sugarcoat the sin, but we certainly don’t want to run them off before we get to the best part of the talk. We want to make sure that they understand that though God is not ok with sin, He still came to save. When we give the Gospel, have a heart of love for the person! I don’t care if you are Calvinist or not regarding this matter. I don’t care what theological background you have in this issue. You still must always under every circumstance make it a priority to give the Gospel in an attitude of love.
Do not be antagonistic like the man at N.C State. Only God knows who was turned away from Jesus that day because of his hate speech. Be like Paul, and give the entire message in the most pure heart of love possible. You never do know who is watching. Who would have guessed that in his defense, Paul would have gained the heart of the governor (all because of what the governor saw in Paul’s words and actions). I guarantee that if you give the Gospel out of love, someone will take notice. And that someone could be the next person that God brings into your life for the presentation of the Gospel to be given. And therein lies the eternal benefits of the gentle witness.

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