“Hey friend, do you have a moment?”
Even though I have known her for years, I haven’t always gone to her for Godly Wisdom. There were many years of our relationship where I had no desire to focus on being Godly. During those years she never “preached” or judged.
Over the years, I have come to respect her and the way she lives. I have seen the presence of God work in and through her life. When I look at her and her family, there is evidence of God.
As she focused on laboring to make her life a reflection of what God intends for it to be, she earned my respect and gained credibility in my eyes. I accept that her faith and relationship with God are real…not because she says it is, but because I have seen it with my own eyes.
I trust her to be a safe person who will give me wise and Godly advice. I respect her, and she has proven that she has no ulterior motives. Because of this, my heart can receive her correction during the times she speaks truths that are sometimes painful to hear. In those moments, I KNOW she is not judging or criticizing, she is loving me with the love of Christ.
There are two key factors happening here:
Respect and Love
My friend lives this scripture:
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”, I Thessalonians 4:11-12, NLT
This verse clearly states that if Christians focus on living a quiet life and mind their own business (and work to fix their own lives), then non-believers will respect the way they live.
They ignore their own sins, shortcomings, and areas that are less than “Godly”. This does not foster respect or credibility towards the Christian who is supposed to be a reflection of God’s love and Godliness. If God is love, yet Christians do not live a life that reflects love or His Godliness, then Non-Believers will have no choice but to discredit the existence of God’s love or the value of living a Godly life.
If God’s people don’t live Godly lives that reflect His love, they have no more credibility in the eyes of a non-believer than a person whose home is in foreclosure giving financial advice or an obese person counseling on a healthy diet/ exercise lifestyle.
I am not saying that living a Godly life accepts and embraces the sinful things another person does. It is possible to embrace the person who is living outside of the precepts of the Christian faith while not condoning or encouraging sinful behavior… that, after all, is what God does.
I have seen it too many times where the intention of the Believer may be pure and loving, but criticism and judgment out weigh the acts associated with love. When this happens, the efforts cannot be received as loving acts. It leaves the person on the receiving end feeling rejected and alone.
Its much easier to have opinions of how other people should be living their lives than it is to focus on the things in our own lives that need to be “cleaned up” or “put in order”.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”, Matthew 7:1-6, NLT
As a believer in Christ, I want the to share His hope and love with others so they have the opportunity to experience it for themselves. If I spend my energies working to make my life what God wants it to be, then the “outsiders” (as the NIV refers to those who are not believers)will respect the way I live. Once that respect is there, the doorway opens for me to share the hope of Jesus with them.