Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Wise and Harmless"

     I once knew a gentleman, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, who felt as if he had to directly inject the subject of God into every conversation (and sometimes it seemed, every sentence or paragraph).  This was especially true in the company of unbelievers, creating many awkward and uncomfortable situations in which more harm than good seemed to result as the gentleman's manner hindered and misrepresented his message.

    "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16).
    "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men" (II Timothy 2:24).

     Countless opportunities to speak of Christ and His gospel present themselves throughout our lifetime.  The Apostle Paul calls us to "preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season" (II Timothy 2:4).  Such readiness and willingness does not mean, however, that we must artificially create environments and atmospheres of communication.  Indeed, few aspects of the Christian life more require the leadership and enabling of the Holy Spirit than our bearing witness of the Lord Jesus.  How easily we can misrepresent Him, in either message or manner.  No less than Paul requested prayer "that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly" (Ephesians 6:19).  Such a request indicates that the Apostle knew his need for both proper words - "utterance" - and the fearless motivation to "boldly" share them when and as given by the Lord.  Moreover, just as our brother of old trusted the Lord rather than himself in the matter of sharing Christ, so must we follow in the path of faith and dependence.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

    The Holy Spirit works within us to prepare and execute our communication of God's saving grace in the Lord Jesus.  He does so in a wisdom and knowledge far beyond human means.  We do not know what those to whom we witness need to hear.  We do know, however, our need to be led of the Spirit in order to make our words effectual rather than meaningless or perhaps even harmful to the cause of Christ.  In so vital a matter as representing the Lord Jesus, we must never merely speak in to order to be speaking.  We rather trust His leadership and enabling, resulting in a witness never forced, misdirected, or inappropriate to the circumstances of the moment.  Yes, the Faithful and True Witness Himself dwells and walks within us by His Spirit (Revelation 3:14).  We can rely on our Lord to give many opportunities to speak words for Him, as originated and empowered by Him.

When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: and ye also shall bear witness."
(John 15:26-27)

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