Christianity 201

December 1, 2014

Dealing with People Compassionately Without Compromising Convictions

 

“…For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:10 MSG)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col. 4:5,6 NIV)

Wounds inflicted by the correction of a friend prove he is faithful… (Prov. 27:6a, The Voice)

The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you… (Prov 27:6a NCV)

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly].(Eph. 4:15 Amplified Bible)

I recently finished reading the book, Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth. This book deals with what is now a really tough issue facing the church at large, and takes several different approaches to this topic while at the same time revealing the vast number of situational challenges that we are either going to face, or have already faced.

I looked for a section of the book that had more general application to us devotionally and came up with this short excerpt:

 

Compassion Without Compromise…As you seek to exercise compassion without compromise, we encourage you to keep two key principles in mind:  mission and true love.

Mission – Jesus came to seek and save lost people, and he has sent us out with that same mission.  We can never forget this.  He did not call us to a “bumper sticker” mission where we are content to advertise our convictions without ever entering into the sometimes messy world of relationships.  When we are facing a tough choice, one essential question should be, “Will this help or hurt my  call to witness to this person’s life?”

True Love – The “true love” concept is at the heart of living out a life of compassion without compromise.  In our day, people often act as if love and truth are at odds.  Sometimes, people do live that way.

Let’s face it.  There are “truth” people, who dispense facts without any hint of love.  Truth people are like guys who use a sledgehammer for every conceivable household task that includes hammering something.  They might be trying to drive a stake into the ground to stabilize a sapling (good application), or a small nail into the wall to hang a picture (bad application).  In the extreme, truth people do things like question the eternal salvation of a friend’s grandmother while visiting the friend in the funeral home.  Or respond to a gay co-worker’s wedding invitation by saying, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”  Truth people need to grow in true love.

Then there are “love” people, who refuse ever to speak a hard truth if they feel it might hurt someone’s feelings.  They are like an overindulgent, willfully blind parent who refuses to believe that “my little Johnny” would ever hurt another person, despite a track record of terrorizing his classmates, or like a doctor who would refuse to give someone a hard diagnosis if the treatment might inconvenience the patient.

A “true love” person understands that trying to sustain love without truth is like trying to breathe underwater.  We are not showing anyone love when we encourage them to live out of touch with reality.  At the same time, acknowledging the truth that it is potentially dangerous to dive below the surface does not prevent us from jumping in to save someone we love!  Love drives us forward.  Truth helps us chart a safe course toward the destination.

Ultimately, we believe it is important to understand ourselves, our strengths, and our weaknesses.  Where are we tempted to compromise?  Is it easier for us to shortchange love or to soft-pedal truth?  A wise witness will understand these contours of their personality.  They will want to stay balanced as they move forward in mission.

pp. 126-127

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