Is the Truth a club in your hands?

wordswag_1516194685769He is a friend, a pastor, and yesterday, he wounded my heart. His words flowed out of deep, passionate conviction and I knew it. Still, as he talked about his belief that Christians have authority to heal and that those not healed are either sinful, lack faith, or the one praying for them lacks faith, I felt his words fall on me like a club; accusing, judgmental. I heard them only in the context of the loss of my Dad, my Mom, and my wife – all of whom died young, cancer slowly stealing their earthly lives in spite of fervent prayers of faith offered by many for them. Did he intend to hurt me? Not at all.  I left that little gathering with a jumble of emotions- anger, confusion, self-doubt, to name a few.

My intent today is not to debate the issue of healing. Selected texts from Scripture can be used to support differing conclusions. I do most certainly believe that God acts to heal, but also know that He is God and I am not, that His no is as much an answer as His yes!

As I thought about that morning meeting, I realized anew the power of words and the care with which I must use them! How do you use ‘truth’ in your life?

Truth exists! For example, I am convinced that Jesus Christ is the Way to know God, the Father, the only One who can restore us to a right relationship with Him and give us eternal life. That is a non-negotiable Truth for me. But, how I communicate it is critically important.  Many years ago, my little brother, then about 5 years of age, heard the gospel and in a childish way felt the need to challenge everyone he met with a question about their eternal destiny. He made grown men squirm when he publicly asked them point-blank if they knew Jesus and were going to Heaven. That’s fine for a child, but if I take the wonderful Gospel and, in a childish way, turn it into a challenge about Heaven and Hell, I am unlikely to bring many to the life offered in Jesus, am I?

Another example comes from a place of deep conviction about human life. I am avidly pro-life believing that abortion is a sin. But, I would never stand on the street and wave a sign proclaiming my conviction because I also know that women who are considering that choice are usually feeling pressures that I, as a man, cannot even imagine. So my convictions, though unwavering, must be shaped by compassion, communicated in ways that they can be heard by someone in crisis.

Truth is not to kill or condemn. It is to bring life, wholeness, and restoration. Paul urges us to “speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15, NLT) When we talk about God’s Word, about our convictions about what He has said to us, we must do so with great grace, with the love of Jesus shaping every word. In all of noisy bombast that has become our divided world, this gentle kind of context for our message is even more important.

Yes, of course, I know that the truth will offend some, regardless of our care and compassion.  Jesus acknowledged that He would become a source of division, that some would hate us because of Him.  We know that, but we do not have to go looking for a fight, do we?

Know the Word. Hold tightly to the eternal truth. Focus on the Good News of the Kingdom Come!  And let us take this word from Paul to young pastor Timothy as our guide. Here is a word from the Word. Lord, give us ears to hear and a heart that understands. “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.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26, NLT)

___________

Wonderful Words Of Life

Sing them over again to me
Wonderful words of life
Let me more of their beauty see
Wonderful words of life
Words of life and beauty
Teach me faith and duty

Beautiful words wonderful words
Wonderful words of life
Beautiful words wonderful words
Wonderful words of life

 Christ the blessed One gives to all
Wonderful words of life
Sinner list to the loving call
Wonderful words of life
All so freely given
Wooing us to Heaven

Philip Paul Bliss © Words: Public Domain

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