The Discerning Disciple
We all have people in our lives who need Christ in their lives. Maybe the Lord is directing your attention to a coworker, family member, neighbor, or friend who is ruling as his or her own god, rather than submitting to the almighty God. As we grow closer to God, we feel an emergent sense that we need to be a light in unbeliever’s lives and share the gift of salvation with them. The question is: is our light the brilliant reflection of the love of God or an irritating strobe light that screams condemnation? Indeed, God has called us to go and make disciples all over the world, as He says in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (NKJV). It is clear by this scripture that we are supposed to spread the Word of God; however, how are we doing this? What is our attitude when we are witnessing? Let us take a lesson from Christ, as John 3:17 explains, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Therefore, when we share the truth of Scripture with unbelievers, our words should convey the love of God and his incredible gift of salvation, and our message should not be dripping with heartless disdain for the immoral lifestyle someone may be living. For we, as Christians, are exhorted to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
To be effective disciples, we must ensure we are speaking and acting in the spirit, rather than in the flesh. As followers of Christ, we are to be “spirit” led (Romans 8:14). This may initially seem to be an easy task, but how many of us are spirit led every time we share the Gospel with an unbeliever? Have you ever watched an initially promising witness opportunity morph into a frustrating dead end, as your words weren’t being received so easily? If your words are not spoken with love, they are not likely to be received at all. While it is not our responsibility to transform someone’s heart, it is our responsibility to embody God’s love and forgiveness to everyone we encounter. Remember the exhortation in 1 Peter 3:8-9: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” Now some of you may be wondering, “I approached someone in love with the message of salvation, and they completely rejected it, so now what?” Scripture encourages us not to lose hope in what may appear to be fruitless witnessing attempts: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
When we are tempted to speak to people harshly and unforgivingly because of the glaring sin in their lives, we need to remember who we were before God’s grace redeemed us. We need to realize we are nothing without Him, and it only through His transforming power that we have been made new. So, as a disciple of Christ, seek to be tenderhearted; have a heart for God’s people as He has revealed His heart for you. Follow God’s prompting and share His love with whomever you encounter throughout the day. Be guided by the spirit, rather than the flesh, and recognize your role as a follower of Christ: “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).