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A Gentle Defense

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,
always being ready to make a defense
to everyone who asks you to give an account
for the hope that is in you,
yet with gentleness and reverence . . .
I Peter 3:15

Do you have someone dear to you that you’re concerned about — someone who doesn’t share your faith? Perhaps you’ve prayed, pleaded, and persevered. Nothing. What do you do? How do you share your faith with them? Peter talks to us about this very thing, doesn’t he? And he admonishes us to speak gently and respectfully — remembering always that Christ is your Lord and allowing Him to speak through you.

When I get a chance to share my faith with a person, I try to relate by talking about my personal failures (flesh-patterns) like depression, doubting, pride, emotional upheavals, and those things to which a struggling, hurting, defensive person might relate. “She understands.” I try to never “preach” to anyone and I certainly don’t put myself deliberately in the path of offensive folks (and they are plentiful)! But if God makes a way or opens a door, I tiptoe through — reluctantly at times. In other words, only as the Spirit leads. I may sense a need — depression, sadness, anger, hostility — but I don’t open my mouth until He says, “Okay. Talk to her.” In other words, I listen carefully. To God? Yes, and to the person with whom I am talking so I can understand what’s happening in their world. We are often too ready to give an answer before we’ve heard all of the problem!

I have found through the years that only if someone is ready to hear will I have a listener instead of an opponent and bringing someone to that point of readiness isn’t my responsibility. People are not going to go to hell because I don’t share with them — that is in God’s job jar, not mine. They may be living in hell here on Planet Earth, but I can’t drag them out of their personal hell kicking and screaming no matter how much I would like to do just that! They must be ready to listen.

And you know, many times these folks are not “offensive,” they are “defensive.” They’ve been “cornered by those who care” one too many times. Sad to say, this was the way Bill and I “witnessed” to our parents. “Preach, preach! Condemn, condemn! Your way is wrong, our way is right!” Sigh. God mercifully protected them from us, and they are now seated in Heaven, enjoying their high status! (They made it without our sage advice!)

I’ll share this experience with you. Stacy had been dating this guy for several months. She was convinced that he was not a Believer and had broached the subject several times with note-worthy negative results. One day they met for lunch at a rather secluded place and she “pounced” on him again with her presentation of the gospel. He listened, then he very slowly and deliberately said, “Stacy, you show me something you have because of your relationship with Jesus that I don’t have and I might be interested in listening to you.” And you know, the answer some folks might give is to say, “Well, I’m heading for Heaven! Do you know where you’re going?” That’s not it! People are hurting. They want help now — something relevant for their today — not after they die!

No. Showing them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — being the visual of Jesus living in your world — by allowing Him to live through you. This is the way. Let Jesus love those offensive, defensive, doubting people. Leave them shaking their heads in awe at the way you face life! Don’t preach — patiently teach by your example. By the way, patience is trusting God’s timing. Then one day they will come to you and say, “What is it that you have? Whatever it is, I need it!”

That’s the open door! Sic ’em, Tiger!

Lord,
Make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
– The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Patience: Trusting God’s Timing

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.