Oh Now You Want to Talk!

1 Thessalonians 4

Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

It’s almost certain that at some point, someone will ridicule us for our faith in Jesus Christ. It could come from a co-worker or family member. Sometimes its done half-jokingly. Sometimes it’s downright viscous. Regardless of the source, it’s usually our first impulse to want nothing else to do with that person, especially when the ridicule is mean spirited.

But what happens when life throws one of those persons a curve? What if the person who has ridiculed you for years is suddenly overcome by trial or adversity such as divorce, bad news from the doctor, or the unexpected death of a loved one? They might turn to one of their friends for counsel, and when that doesn’t work (it usually doesn’t), don’t be surprised when  they turn  to you for help. When that happens, what a great opportunity it would be to get some payback for all the times they called you holy roller, Bible thumper, or Jesus freak. It would be the perfect moment to repay them for all the insults and personal attacks, and to say to them, “You’ve mocked my God and made fun of my faith all these years, but now you want to talk!”  What a golden opportunity it would be to laugh in their face and gloat over their misfortune.

DON’T DO IT!

If we gloat over their trouble, we miss an even greater opportunity. We will miss the opportunity to show them what it means to be a true and devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

As difficult as it may be to believe, your daily Christian walk has won the respect of those outside the faith. It may not be apparent by the actions of those who make ridicule or torment us. But when we live our faith, they will seek us out when trouble overtakes them because they see the peace and wisdom of God reflected in our lives, even if they don’t fully realize it. When they turn to us for help, we cannot turn them away. We must view it, not as an opportunity to get back at them, but as an opportunity to share the love of Christ.

Peter shared a wealth of Godly wisdom on this matter. I believe the words Peter wrote in the third chapter of his epistle can be applied to this situation. Peter wrote:

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Peter also wrote in that same chapter: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Be ready with an answer when an adversary turns to you for help. We’re to show compassion to those who speak maliciously against us. It’s what Jesus did when He was crucified. And it is that compassion that has saved us from condemnation.

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