Sunday, August 14, 2016

Focused On Our Purpose

To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “"The way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air." (1 Corinthians 9:26, other translations) This is a good reminder to all who feel compelled to preach the Word of God.

True faith was never meant to be a battle of wit and words. To those who accept God's Word as Truth, it is a real beacon to guide them to safe shores. To those that reject it, they remain adrift in tumultuous waters. Our efforts to save those who are "at sea," is to encourage them to let us help them. But what of those that adamantly argue things are not the way we claim? Spending time arguing or debating with them is time wasted that could be more productively spent on those ready and willing to be rescued. But what of the arguers that "keep getting in our face"? They seem to fall into three categories.

The first are those whose only intent is to disrupt and distract. The second are those who honestly feel we are the ones who need saving. (These baffle me because they honestly feel they have something better when it is obvious they don't.) The final group that comes to mind is one that just needs more gentle but firm convincing.

In some ways and to some extent, I fell into both the first and third groups when I first encountered the Witnesses. Now, looking back, I am glad I found a patient and insightful man that saw past my argumentative and arrogant demeanor. When I adamantly would assert that the scripture he was teaching didn't mean what he claimed, he'd ask me what I felt it meant. Then he would patiently reason with me. After a while, rather than offer his thoughts first, he'd have me read a passage and then ask what it meant to me. I was surprised how often I said exactly what the scripture intended. Then, when he would reference the JW material, I had no recourse but to agree it was right. (On occasions when I wasn't correct, he would have me read a few more scriptures and then ask me to tie them altogether.) But he never ever argued with me. If I became obstinate, he would kindly ask me to think about it, pray and research. There were so many fine qualities of this man that I need to remind myself of and strive to imitate.

But for the purpose of this article, I have two points to make. First, debating is fruitless and frustrating. Free Will allows others to have a viewpoint that differs from ours. Second, it’s not our place to judge the intent or motives of others. God is judge of all. Our obligation is to fulfill the preaching commission Jesus gave us. Yes, there are times when we need to use "the sword" to overturn wrong teachings, but that is not license to be unkind. What we are destroying are falsehoods, not people.

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