I know what it's like to try to argue someone into the kingdom of God. I also know how futile it is to try to win people to Christ that way. I used to think that we should be able to convince people to believe the truth, simply because it's the truth. But it doesn't work that way. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, though. Ron Luce of "Teen Mania" says, "If you can talk someone into Christianity, they can be talked out." Now I'm convinced that trying to argue someone into the kingdom can do more harm than good. In fact, the Bible warns against "quarreling about words" and says that, not only is it "of no value," but it "only ruins those who listen." (2 Timothy 2:14 NIV)
The verses above tell us that instead of arguing or debating with the unsaved, we should "gently instruct them." (2 Timothy 2:25 NIV) As the Holy Spirit leads us, we can attempt to teach those who don't believe by "speaking the truth in love," as Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) says. Scripture goes on to say that we should do this in the hope that God will grant them repentance, and lead them to a knowledge of the truth. Notice that it's God's part to grant them repentance and to lead them to the truth, not ours. That should take some of the pressure off of us. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are not responsible for how others respond to the Gospel message. We're only responsible for how we deliver it.
Besides instructing the lost as we're led by God's Spirit, the verses above tell us that we must demonstrate godly character, being "kind to everyone, not resentful." (2 Timothy 2:24 NIV) Some people will not be reached when we tell them about Jesus, but they may be convinced if we SHOW them Jesus." The apostle Paul confirms this when he writes: "Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. " (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV) One evening years ago, I got a call from my teenage son saying that he had been in a car accident. He was unharmed, but his car was destroyed. I had visitors at the time, and one of them was an unsaved teen who no one had been able to reach with the Gospel. I found out later that as a result of my Christlike response to my son's accident, this girl gave her life to Christ. Since then, I've often wondered, "What if I had reacted differently?" It's so important for us to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit at all times.
Lastly, there are times when all we can do for someone is pray for them. We may be the last ones they'll receive the truth from, and we may have to ask the Lord to put laborers in their path who they'll be receptive to. God knows who they are. It's always wise for us to consult God and ask Him what our part is in leading someone to Him. As we are sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spiritís leading in matters like these, the Lord will use us in extraordinary ways to lead others to His kingdom!
Prayer: Lord, open up doors of opportunity for me to lead others to You. Show me what my part is each time, and help me to be led by Your Spirit. Teach me to speak the truth in love and to set a Christlike example for others. Thank You for using me to touch and change lives for all eternity for Your glory!
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