I am not a person who likes to see others hurting, and I try to be very careful with how I interact with other people. There is a proverb that says a soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). I've experienced in dealing with angry people that giving a soft answer can immediately make a sour conversation turn sweet. I'm all for having sweet conversations with others.
We must remember though that there are times when Biblical truth will upset people no matter how we handle ourselves in conversing with them. Some things just rub people the wrong way even if these things are shown to be truths contained in sacred Scripture. People are inclined to abide in what they have been taught; what has been handed down to them by their parents or grandparents. Many times people hold on to good teachings that have been handed down, but there are times that we all hold on to false teachings that have been handed down. It is possible for our fathers to have inherited lies, and then we inherited these same lies from our fathers (Jeremiah 16:19). When we are initially faced with coming to grips that we think wrongly about an issue, we want to respond by defending ourselves whether we are right or wrong because of the pride of not wanting to admit error. The truth sometimes hurts, but we cannot allow our emotions or experiences to ever over rule the word of the sovereign Creator.
When we witness about Biblical truths to others we should do so respectfully and in a spirit of love. At the same time we must be aware that our witness of truth is not always going to be received no matter how kind we seek to be when sharing.
I've experienced both aspects of this. I've been on the end of having to receive truth that hurt me at first, and I've been on the end of sharing truth that hurt others. Our intentions and motives should never be to hurt and harm, but nonetheless never forget that at times truth will hurt and harm. Hopefully, we who are hurt at first by truth will later be able to see the error of our past ways.
I haven't preached for as long most preachers in the world today. Many people I've talked to believe that somehow being a "Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal" or even "Yahwist" for a long amount of time means that they have the truth. I recently received a phone call from an individual who said that a local minister in his area was asking how many years I had been ministering. The minister told him my website said that I'd been ministering for about four years and to him this meant that a particular doctrine I held could not be correct. This minister was supposedly a Yahwist minister (he believed in using the name of Yahweh exclusively) and I was quite surprised that he would use the same reasoning that I've had many other denominational preachers use. I've talked with people and preachers, and made an honest attempt to witness to others about Yahweh's name, but oftentimes I hear a statement somewhat like this, "Son, I've been a ________ for 30 years." The blank can be filled in with many denominations in nominal Christendom today. When a person says these words all I can do is say a prayer for them hoping that they will realize the Scriptures to be paramount rather than their years of service in a denomination.
Other times I speak with people whom "God has told" something to. I just very recently talked with a nice gentleman on the phone who was trying to tell me that God had showed him that the Trinity was a true doctrine. This man, though very cordial, was completely deceived into thinking that Yahweh had showed him the truth through some miraculous means and it really didn't matter what anyone else had to say on the issue. I made an attempt to discuss the word elohim with the fellow, and at the same time was going to explain to Him what I believed about the Creator's being and person. He told me that he was not interested in a discussion nor was he interested in receiving any literature, books, etc. from me; he just wanted to share his experience with me. I told him my wife had dinner ready and we should probably end the discussion. It ended on a friendly manner, as I always try my best to do, but I was in the spirit of wanting to pray for this lost sheep; hoping that Yahweh could open his heart to see the light of sacred scripture - its utmost importance.
All this being said, I will continue to do my best to talk to people like this again. Why, you may ask? Because I do not know whom the elect of Yahweh are. It is my duty to preach the gospel to others and let Yahweh sort the sheep from the goats. I want to make the effort to reach the convinced preacher, the person who "talks" with God, the businessman, the drug dealer, the white supremist, the black supremist, etc. Some people may not agree with my position on this, but I refuse to not take advantage of the opportunity to share the gospel with a person that Yahweh Himself created. I want to let the preacher know that it doesn't matter what he and I believe (whether for one year or thirty) but it does matter what the Bible says. I want to let the "revelator" know that Yahweh would never tell him or show him something that is not found in the written revelation of Scripture. I want to let even the roughest sinner know that God hates him (Psalm 5:5; 6:8) and that the wrath of God will be poured out upon him if he does not repent (Isaiah 13:9). He will suffer the punishment for sin, that is, unless he confesses his sin, and repents of his sin. Yahweh will forgive him and give him hope and life. That's what I want to do.
Sometimes we are at ease and have a certain class of people we like to witness to. There are certain people we are not interested in reaching. Shame on us if we take this position. Yeshua taught at times that the tax collectors and the harlots would enter the kingdom before those that appeared righteous (Matthew 21:31-32). We need to be willing to reach people involved in even the most heinous and obvious crimes against Yahweh's law. We need to be ready to witness and not back down from sharing the gospel with a drug dealer, gang member, homosexual, or leader of a cult. We need to show them the love of Yahweh and at the same time preach to them the truth of Yahweh's word without compromise. This is the Biblical way. Let us follow it.
It is often difficult to approach people about strong held beliefs you may have. People with such beliefs are generally people whose entire life is centered around Yahweh and thus Holy Scripture. We want to make sure and tell people about the beliefs we hold dear in our hearts, but at the same time do this without making others feel uneasy. This is a difficult harmony to achieve.
Now I'm not promoting anything like postmodernism where we have to walk on "eggshells" everytime we talk to a person about the Bible, but I am saying that we ought to make sure we are following the admonition of Paul in Second Timothy:
"But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord's slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil's trap, having been captured by himn to do his will." [2 Timothy 2:23-26]
When we witness to others who may vary from our position we hold passionately are we gentle, patient, and able to teach? I guarantee you that someone hearing a position in gentleness will be more apt to listen. We must realize this, and even realize that at times people are truly in the "Devil's trap" as Paul tells us, yet it is these type people that we must speak to in a gentle manner.
I would just make this suggestion: the next time you discuss Scripture with a person make the effort to be gentle and patient. Watch the effects of Yahweh's inspired word come to fruition as you do.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.