I don’t know what your first thought was when you saw the title to this post, but my emphasis is going to be on two small, but very powerful words: in love.
We live in a world where people are willing, and often way too eager, to give their opinions on things. Gone are the days when people would weigh their words and find a way to be gracious toward others (at least to their face).
Although there is a need for honesty in a time where it’s near impossible to know who to trust, many forget that, if they don’t have love, they are merely a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13). If something needs to be said, there is a way to say it, and that way is with grace and humility.
One could argue that Jesus was not always graceful when He confronted sin, but I don’t feel like this gives us the right to get in people’s face, tear them down, call them names, etc. Jesus taught His disciples to love each other and to think of others as better than themselves. If you truly believe that the person you are confronting is better than you, you will consider your words carefully before you say them.
People are more likely to receive a rebuke if they know you love them and truly care about them. If you are more concerned with being right than you are about the other person being right with God, then hold your tongue and do not attempt to address the issue. More often than not, you will just make things worse, and they may harden their heart even further and never repent.
I see this in doctrinal debate too. I love being around people who are strong in their faith and know what they believe, but some have a hard time having strong beliefs without condemning those who have different beliefs. Within the Church, there are different callings, gifts, and, yes, even doctrines. Just because someone believes differently than you do does not mean they do not love Jesus. If you are a true Believer, you are most likely at a different place in your spiritual walk than you were ten years ago. We should all be constantly learning and growing, so learn to bear with those who are at a different place than you are.
In John 17:21, Jesus prayed that we would be one, just as He and the Father are one, but that unity will not come by fighting each other. You are responsible to study to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15) and to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:15), but there is a way to do those things, and the answer is lovingly.
I leave you with these words from the apostle Paul: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). That is my prayer for all of us. Don’t let the enemy use you to bring strife and division among God’s people. Instead, encourage each other to love and good works and, if rebuke is necessary, ask God to help you to do it in love.
What about confronting false prophets/teachers that are enemies to the cause of Christ and the souls of others??? I have not found ONE example where JESUS or His apostles spoke kindly to or about them. Please…correct me if I’m wrong by pointing me to scriptures I may have missed or interpreted.
The New Testament is full of Jesus and the apostles warning people about false teachers, and there is a definite need for that today, so I am not saying not to do that. There were also times when they would confront the false teachers (I think of Simon the sorcerer for example), but, if you are going to do that, you really need to know that it is the Spirit’s prompting and not just a prideful desire to “be right.” If God has not moved on your heart to confront a person for their wrong doctrine, it is better to pray for them and ask God to show you how to help the person. I still say the motive needs to be love for the false teacher or for those he or she is teaching. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
First, let me say how much I appreciate Sony sharing from the heart. Words like these can never be heard enough in this day and age. There is nothing in this post that reveals a desire to see this site cease from defending truth and contending for the faith.
The issue that is at stake is really twofold. 1) Are our words gracious in love and centered around Christ or are they merely the spewing of words in order to prove our point? 2) Are we truly being led by the Holy Spirit to say or write the words that we are sharing with the blogosphere?
Defending Contending has gone through many cycles as our long-time readers will know and remember. As an editor, contributor, and now the owner of the site, I have had to apologize for the way we have approached some subjects or individuals. Words have been spewed, many of which we have gone back and removed because we were not right in the way we handled it.
My dad taught me from my early years that, “Your position may be right, but if your disposition is wrong, then it will never validate your position as being right.”
We must remember that standing against blatant heresy is always expected from those who are faithful to proclaim the Word of God. However, there are areas that are not salvific in nature that we will long debate AND still remain brothers and sisters in Christ. If the truth was known, the church of the 21st century probably looks NOTHING like the persecuted church of the 1st century and even succeeding centuries.
Finnegan, knowing Sony as a close friend, this post had nothing to do with the words being exchanged on the post you referenced. This was a subject that we agreed was needed to be heard once again for a variety of reasons, but that was not one of them. I have been keeping a close eye on the back and forth between yourself and T.I.M. and I would just ask that you both follow your own desire to follow the New Command of Christ to love your neighbor as yourself and I am sure there will be no major issues at stake.
Thanks again for posting and for sharing your thoughts. Sony, may the Lord continue to use you to share words of encouragement here at Defending Contending. You are a valuable part of the team. Every contributor will NEVER be on the same page, but we will strive to share our words with grace and love, and if there must be disagreement, then let it still be with grace and love.
Soli Deo Gloria!
This is my third time trying to post the comment: Please elaborate on how CHRISTIANS have different doctrines? Is this question being rejected by the site administrator? If so, please e-mail me the reason why. Thanks.
I believe that CHRISTIANS should NOT be concerned with “speaking from the heart” (Jeremiah 17:9) but PRIMARILY concerned that our speaking/writing aligns with the TRUTHS presented in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
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I have set all first time commenters to the blog to automatically be held in moderation for a variety of reasons. It is nothing personal against you or your questions. We do appreciate you stopping by and leaving your comments. I will go ahead and address your questions now.
1) There are no Christians who hold 100% to every single facet of doctrine in the Scriptures. Whether it is views on when the rapture will take place, the style and times of communion being held, modes of baptism for believers, use of songs or hymns or both or psalms only, etc. This post is not about major foundational truths that lie at the heart of Christianity. Error and heresy will always be heresy, but the afore-mentioned doctrines have nothing to do with whether we will spend eternity with Christ. True believers in Christ have disagreed on these points and others, but they are still brothers and sisters of the same family.
2) Yes, Jeremiah is clear that the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. Again, knowing the author, this was not about trusting your feelings over the truth of God’s Word. Sony was using the metaphor to indicate that we are to love one another from the heart and, more importantly, the Lord Jesus, so that we will model His Servant example to others instead of showing belligerence and hatred to those who are truly believers. Nobody has every doctrine correct and we will never fully have some answers until we are with the Lord at which time we will find that all the endless debates of tedious genealogies, etc. will mean nothing.
In conclusion, and to state again, there was nothing in the post that would indicate a departure from defending truth and contending for the faith, or even an acceptance of such by Sony. This was all about speaking in love when striving to address those with whom we may have differences of opinion over doctrines that are not salvific in nature.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my comments. I was in NO way implying that Ms. Elise was not being sincere in her quest to promote speaking truth in love…I totally agree with her on that point and it’s CLEARLY taught in Scripture.
However, I am concerned with us (Christians) having the view that showing love is always about being “sugar and spice and everything nice” ALL in the name of “tolerance and love” as is now being HEAVILY propagated by many FALSE teachers and believers. Our LORD and HIS apostles (and the Old Testament Prophets) spoke HARD words to and about those who were fleecing and scattering the people of God.
I am not implying that we should use this argument as an excuse to be mean, nasty, or prideful when sharing or contending for the truth…but as another commenter stated…sometimes what is said or done by a Christian doesn’t APPEAR to be love (especially to those OF the world) when it TRULY IS LOVE…the kind of love I believe the LORD JESUS exemplified when speaking in anger to the scribes and Pharisees.
In short…I do believe that Christians are sometimes called to literally “wear a frown” and “grit our teeth” and STILL have a heart that’s filled with love that ONLY desires what’s best ( ETERNAL LIFE) for the person(s) we’re addressing (Ephesians 4:26, Jude 1:23).
Thanks again for responding.
Sony and Mark you speak the truth in love.
This is my greatest battle. Balancing defending the faith seasoned with love and respect.
Tracy my bent is as you wrote. My NT bible hero is Apollos who “refuted them mightily” and not Barnabus the son of encouragement.
Matt. 11:11 the greatest born of a woman, John the Baptist was a fire brand.
The “woe unto you” OT prophets were not known for being gentle either.
Yes Jonah was over top.
God does hate those who speak falsely in His name and all false teachers and gods.
In the age of post modern progressive secular humanism a 2×4 works better than feather.
I’m just now getting a few minutes to let you all know that I appreciate your comments. I’m sorry if I implied that we should not speak the truth at all. I took for granted that you all don’t have a problem doing that. 😉 I have just seen so many people get the first part of that verse down and yet forget the “in love” part. And I know it’s even easier to do that online.
Years ago, we knew a man who believed it was a sin for a woman to wear pants. We had a mutual friend who had just started wearing pants before she got cancer. He was very vocal that the cancer was the judgment of God, and He proceeded to tell her family that at the funeral. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his belief, it was extremely insensitive of him to hammer the point home, especially to her family, some of whom weren’t even saved.
I admit that I am not confrontive by nature, but I work with my brother who is always offending people due to his strong stand on issues. It takes all personalities and gifts to build the Body of Christ. I respect those who think fast on their feet and can defend their beliefs. I agree with Brother Mark, though, that no human has all truth. I have been a Christian for over 20 years, but I still feel like I’m learning (and hopefully growing). I don’t write because I have all the answers and I want everyone to think like me; I write to share what God is teaching me or what I see in the Church that bothers me.
There is probably more I could say but I have to leave early tomorrow and haven’t packed yet, so I better get on it. God bless you all as you continue to encourage and challenge each other.
Good reminder! Thanks for speaking truth!
I would ask the thousands upon thousands of pastors who are big into formal official sign on the dotted line membership, how can you justify your refusal to love all those in Christ with equal unity and respect. You are commanded to never show favoritism. Yet you intentionally treat non-members with contempt and disdain as second class Christians. You are commanded not to quench the spirit yet you throttle the sprit by forbidding non-members to exercise their various gifts inside “your” church. This is nothing short of Christian (Islamic like dimnitude). You will gladly receive and spend their contributions as if was a (Islamic like Jizra tax on infidels). You wont let them vote or serve so give back their contributions. Mr. pastor answer me this, did you pray to God about them or simply follow the LAW of the church handbook, that you wrote? In Acts 15 the Apostles consulted the Holy Spirit rather than some handbook. What about the call for tolerance for those who differ on the non-essentials in Rom. 14: 1-13 or did you black that passage out.
In Matt. 23. Jesus condemns the Pharisees for coveting and loving titles. Pastor is a title created by men but it is never once used as a title in the Bible.
In Acts 2: 41 The word of God emphatically states that 3000 souls were baptized and added THAT DAY. Added to what? Were they not added to the both the visible church in Jerusalem as well as the invisible universal church? Formal membership is a cruel tool and the invention of the apostate RCC to intimidate and control its members. Why choose to imitate Rome rather than the Church as it was in the very beginning?
As for my part obviously I have a long ways to go before I can let go fully forgive and love these self righteous pastors who relentlessly attempt to bully the flock into submission on this matter.
PS Finnegan T. I. M. loves you too.