My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19,20
This has been happening quite often lately. I’ll be spending time with the Lord, reading His Word and asking Him the meaning of the text I’ve just read, when suddenly I begin to see a familiar verse in a new light. Then to confirm this new understanding, within a few days I will inevitably cross paths with another Christian voicing the same revelation.
In my Bible the above text was already underlined, but as I recall I had done this the last time I read it because I interpreted it to mean that my anger was not seen as righteous in God’s eyes. Taking note of this as I had just been told to, I knew I had to learn to control my bouts of anger.
This time though, the verse spoke to me in a whole new way. As I read it, I could see in my mind’s eye, people standing outside abortion clinics demanding righteous behavior from those who entered along with those who worked there. I thought of conversations, even some that I had participated in, where Christians were angry and disgusted by behaviors and actions of the unsaved. Homosexuality, abortion, adultery, pornography, all of these very obvious sins were discussed, and those who participated in these sins were maligned because of their failure to act in a righteous manner.
I’ve seen Pastors and various believers, wrathfully speak on television, even in news programs, about the sinners in our country and their need to act in a righteous manner. But God says all of this talk is wasted, for our anger with sinners does not bring about the righteousness that He desires. A “there but for the grace of God go I” attitude is what is needed. Many Christians fail at this. I think it’s time we took a cold, hard look at our actions, and decide to make a change, to walk as Jesus did.
Jesus was a magnet to sinners; because of His love for them they were drawn to Him. He never demanded righteousness of them until after they had determined to follow Him. If a person has no desire to adhere to the righteous ways that God has set forth for us in His word, the bottom line is that they are not a born-again Christian, they are not saved. It is our duty to pray for their salvation and continue to witness to them and show them the love of Jesus. It is impossible to succeed in forcing another person to do what is right in God’s eyes. They have to first come to know and love the God that created them, then and only then, will they want to follow His ways. Nudged by the Holy Spirit of course.
Philippians 2:3 wraps up in just one sentence the best way to deal with the unsaved, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” It is pure conceit to think of others’ sins as some how more disgusting to God than our own. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.
When we are told in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”, does it sound as if we will be asked this by other Christians? Of course not. But in order for nonbelievers to recognize a hope within me, they must spend time with me.
Walking as Jesus did means loving all sinners, and displaying a joyous, hopeful, truly magnetic attitude. I should be living in such a way that all people, believers and nonbelievers alike, want to spend time with me, yet never compromising my faith in order to accomplish this goal. Subsequently, when people ask me to give the reason for the hope that I have, I am free to share the gospel through my testimony. And it is most likely “a hope” they have already decided is worth whatever it takes to get.
Christians are commissioned to lead people to the Savior of the world. Morality doesn’t save souls, only Jesus the Christ can do that.