My husband and I have an acquaintance whom we have known for many years. Recently, though, this person’s attitude has seemed to take a turn. Long story short, his communications have been vulgar at times. I told my husband he should stop communicating with him. But he hasn’t. When I asked my husband why he still talks to him, he explained that he fears for this person’s soul. He truly believes this person is not saved, and he hopes that his connection with him will help alter that. I must say that I admire my husband’s character to forge ahead, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus walked this earth, we see how He too often associated with people who were not believers.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:15-17
Jesus came so that all might be saved. And as His followers, we are to help bring people to Him.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
In the words of the late writer, teacher, and pastor, Andrew Murray, “What the Church and the world both need is this: men and women full of the Holy Ghost and of love, who, as the living embodiments of the grace and power of Christ, witness for Him, and for His power on behalf of those who believe in Him.”
Yet Jesus also warns us that if we are not accepted, it might be appropriate to move on. When sending out His disciples, He told them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14).
It is also important to not put ourselves in situations that we know are wrong or might tempt us to sin. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” So we have to be careful how we approach people or situations. For example, my husband might still talk to this person, but that doesn’t mean he will spend time with him in undesirable places.
So how can we know when it is right to persist and when we should move on? If we stay in tune to the Lord and listen to His promptings, He will lead us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lay a burden on our hearts for certain people. I believe that is what He has done with my husband in regards to this acquaintance of ours. And whether we continue to associate with certain people or not, we can always keep praying for them.
We can also be a witness to those around us, just by being ourselves. I have a coworker who has told me before that when we witness to others, it is not always with our words. And he is right. Just by being kind, we are showing people the love of Jesus. Eventually it will make an impact. Especially in our world today. When someone is always nice, it stands out.
Like my husband is in this situation, we can keep being nice to those around us. We are called to show others the love of Jesus. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas