We are not responsible for the behavior of others or their response to the truth in love we speak.
When we know we have done our part, in love, no matter how uncomfortable the situation may become, having done all, we are to stand. (Ephesians 6:13 and forward)
A recent public encounter:
I had been overcharged for product and would like to be refunded the excess amount. Speaking the truth in love, I was kind, polite and requested the error be corrected. I was not rude or degrading to the cashier. I also turned to the two people in line behind me and apologized for the delay.
Each response was different:
The cashier was flustered; she required further instruction to move forward with my request. I had to remind her to please find a manager to handle the request if she were unable.
The first person in line behind me received my apology with grace. She then waited patiently after affirming she would do the same if it were her who had been overcharged; she came into agreement with me and experienced the peace of God that passes all understanding.
The second person in line chose to be rude, bullying and overbearing. Focused only on his own selfish need and want, he had no time for anyone else and wanted only that everyone else get out of his way. He experienced frustration and anger. It didn’t shorten his wait time or get him any sympathy from anyone.
The manager who finally responded to the cashiers request for assistance was either new or incompetent. In any case it was obvious she didn’t know how to execute a refund for an overcharge. Although I quietly suggested she void the initial transaction and simply re-ring my purchase correctly, she chose to ignore the suggestion.
Instead of sharing her solution with us, thereby easing nerves and tension, she contributed to increased tension by fumbling about, failing to explain what she was doing, taking too long to do it and behaving with indecision. Then she simply appeared to give up and without a word to any of us, she walked away without explanation.
Oh this is such a picture of the chaos and turmoil the Body of Christ suffers too often in this overly “politically correct” culture we find ourselves attempting to function in!
1 Thessalonians 2:1 -12
In Apostle Paul’s day it was no different. He had to deal with many responses to his delivery of the word of God. Some received it with gladness and were blessed, like the woman in line directly behind me.
Others had stone hearts and suffered because of that, while blaming Apostle Paul, so they lashed out at him in anger.
Still others, who were leaders in their communities, were stumped as to how to react to the truth of God being shared. After trying to wrangle the truth to make it fit into their theology, they just gave up and walked away. They refused to accept the truth or allow change into their hearts.
We who call ourselves Christian continue to have the same mandate as the first century believers.
- To be witnesses to Christ (Acts 1:8)
- to preach the gospel, instant in season and out of season (2Timothy 4:2)
- to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) as mature Christians so the light of Christ is shining for all to see; and hopefully to respond positively to!
Whether we are sharing the message of Hope, sharing a gospel truth or simply speaking truth in a given situation during the course of living our everyday lives such as the one I've described above, we should treat them all the same. Speaking the truth in love. Being in public, private or in a church setting should not change our behavior.
In this current cultural climate, we desperately need to be encouraged and reminded as Joshua was reminded and encouraged (Joshua 1:9)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you WHEREVER you go!"