In order to be a faithful Christian, it is our duty to not only be hearers of the Word but doers also (James 1:22). This means that we not only have to make sure that we ourselves are faithful servants of God but we also have to take the time to teach others to be the same. Teaching others the errors of their ways has its risks, however, and one of these risks is facing persecution from those who are spiritually weak.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, he gave Christians the command to teach anyone and everyone they come into contact with about God. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (v.19-20). Likewise, 2 Timothy 4:2 states, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” All of these verses teach us to not give up on those who we are trying to bring to Christ. So, what do we do when we face opposition from others?
I am reminded of a situation I was in recently where I had been trying to teach someone who was not a member of Christ’s church about the importance of becoming baptized and a faithful servant of God. I had been writing and sending cards to this person in which I talked about the steps to the Plan of Salvation, the importance of baptism and church attendance, and the consequences of not obeying the Word of God. I wrote these cards out with great care, and approached the subject with love and kindness in my heart toward this person. Hoping that my efforts would be appreciated and most importantly, helpful to this person, I was extremely saddened and disappointed to be told by a family member of this person that my efforts were not only unhelpful, but my cards were causing this man to become angry, and has thus “made things worse.” I was also told to stop sending cards to this man and to not mention anything about the cards I had previously sent to him if I came into contact with this person. Even though I had taken great care to make sure that I expressed myself in the kindest way I knew how, I was hit with these very discouraging words regarding my efforts to save a lost soul.
So, how do you handle a situation such as this? It is obvious that the devil was at work in this case because who besides the devil would tell you to stop teaching someone the Word of God? We can see in the Scriptures that I quoted earlier in this article that Jesus wants us to keep reaching out to lost souls and to never give up! The devil wants to silence the voices of faithful Christians and uses excuses such as “that person gets angry” or “your efforts are making matters worse” to discourage us to the point of backing down and giving up!
Ezekiel tells us what to do in a situation where a person we are teaching does not listen to us. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3:17-19).
If a person is willing to listen to some teaching, then do not give up on that person. I am never giving up on the person that I have been trying to teach, and I hope that he will decide to make the right choice and become a faithful Christian. I know that teaching the Word of God can never make things worse. All Scripture is designed to be used for teaching and admonishing others to do live rightly. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). As Ezekiel said, I have no control over anything that those I teach choose to do in their lives, I only have control over what I do, and God will only judge me based on how much I have tried to bring others to Christ, rather than how successful I have been in doing so. I believe that if a person works every day to bring others to Christ either by their words or their example, then everyone can help convert at least one person during the course of their lifetime.
For this to happen, Christians must view the lost state that their fellow man or woman is in as an emergency situation. I find that many Christians are focused on their own salvation and what they must do to keep themselves and their families faithful, that they lose sight of those who are headed in the wrong direction and who are destined to suffer and burn for all eternity. Other Christians may see that many sins are considered “the norm” according to the sinful world in which we live, and they, too, choose to turn a blind eye to those who are committing various sinful acts. Still, others may avoid reaching out to those who are spiritually lost out of fear of the reaction they may get in return.
We, as Christians, sometimes have to get out of our “comfort zone” and reach out to others. Those who are lost will rarely reach out to us, so we must be sure to take the initiative to help them. Christians should not fear persecution. If one is standing up for the Truth at all times, then he or she is going to face persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Whatever opposition or persecution we may face in the process will help us to gain wisdom, patience, and a Home in Heaven! Our focus should be on what we have to gain in the next life rather than what we may lose in this one. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).