Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gentle Persuasion

"Be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1Peter 3:15).

“At some point one stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and…wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: ‘I will combat it by humble love.’ Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it” (The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware).

The Puritans were right when they enunciated the principle of consent. Faith can never be foisted on another. Consent must be gained by humble love and gentle persuasion.

Matthew said of Jesus, quoting an Old Testament prophet, “He will not quarrel or cry out...” (Matthew 12:19). The word translated “quarrel” means to “to wrangle” and is used to describe Jesus’ calm, quiet demeanor in contrast to the bitter acrimony of those who opposed him. Discussion and rational debate is one thing; discourtesy and rancor is another. When we resort to anger and abuse we lose our moral and rational force and eventually our audience. 

Philosopher Dallas Willard put the matter well I think: "We should be "simple, humble, and thoughtful as we listen to others and help them come to faith in the One who has given us life." This is what Paul calls fighting the “good (beautiful) fight” (2 Timothy 4:7). [Of the two words for “good” in the Greek language, Paul here uses the one that means “winsome.” ]

In our enthusiasm to give our faith away we must never resort to severity. The good news only sounds good when it’s announced with good manners. 

Yet in my walks it seems to me,
That the grace of God is in courtesy.

David Roper

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