There is a time for every purpose under heaven. Jesus tells us in Acts 1 that we will know when it is the right season or timing to share either the Word of God or the love of God with someone. The Lord has called us to be witnesses of Him to a world that is trapped in spiritual darkness. As His witness, we have to know when to speak out and when to just “be there” for them when sin kicks them to the curb.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will come upon us and give us the authority to be His witness to whomever He sends our way. However, authority isn’t enough when it comes to knowing HOW to minister a word to someone who is in darkness or rebellion. We must ask the Lord for discernment. Allow me to explain further. When someone is in sin or has rebelled against God, it also means that they have hardened their hearts to the voice of God. Some people may need to hear a truth from God’s Word that will awaken them from sin, but others may require that we show them grace first. For this, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for direction because He discerns the heart and knows the mind of the recipient.
Before I continue, let’s bring this down to where you and I live for a moment. How do you feel when someone approaches you and tries to correct you with the Word, but seemingly has no love or compassion? You will probably want to erect emotional walls to protect your heart from being hurt even deeper. However, there are two approaches that the Lord has directed me to share with you today that will enable us to be a more effective witness for Christ.
Throughout the gospels, you can see that Jesus showed great compassion, mercy, love, and grace to the sinners. Nevertheless, when it came to those who thought they were “saved” but lived in religious rebellion, Jesus seemed always to speak the truth directly to their hearts. He never minced words when addressing wolves in sheep’s clothing. However, we can see that Jesus used two totally different approaches because He knew the hearts of the people that He was ministering to with the word.
In John 8, Jesus addressed some people in another way… very differently than we might think. Early, one Sabbath morning, Jesus was ministering in the synagogue. As He was teaching the people, some scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Him that had been caught in the very act of adultery. According to the Law of Moses, if she were to be found guilty, this woman was condemned to die.
Consequently, since she was taken in the act of adultery, the evidence was overwhelmingly against her. However, instead of Jesus telling the men to stone her, He turned the tables on her accusers. Please note that Jesus didn’t condemn her in front of her accusers. Instead of quoting the Law of Moses to her, Jesus directed the subject of sin to her accusers, and they became convicted in their hearts. He spoke the truth to them, but He extended grace to the accused woman.
After every man had departed from His presence, He asked the woman where her accusers were. She told Him that there were none, to which Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” After the accusers were gone, Jesus spoke the command to obey to the freed woman. He first gave her grace, while in the company of her accusers, and then He spoke the truth into her heart that she was required to obey. His love empowered her to receive the truth that she needed to live a life without immorality.
If our hearts are hardened because of the accuser, the Lord will show us grace so that we might experience His love, and then He will reveal the truth to our softened heart. What I am describing generally takes place during a difficult trial where you feel nothing but guilt and shame; that is when God’s grace is released. If you respond correctly to His grace, then He will speak the truth so that you can begin to obey by faith and please the Lord.
Are you living under a cloud of condemnation that makes you feel guilty and ashamed? If so, then turn your heart to the Lord in humility and love, and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse your conscience through His grace.
But for the Grace of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery