Be confident. Be bold. Be courageous. As Christians, we must be unashamed of the Gospel and ready to defend the faith. These are the lessons that we constantly teach our young people and preach from our pulpits, as we should.
Unfortunately, however, some Christians, in their fervency and zeal, express that confidence and boldness through arrogance and obnoxious behavior that does more harm than good to the cause of Christ.
Make no mistake—Christians have every reason to have utmost confidence in their relationship with Christ and enjoy the beautiful blessing and opportunity (not to mention obligation) of sharing the love of Christ with others, but that zeal and boldness must be tempered with humility and love.
But how do we accomplish that and what does it look like? Consider a few thoughts from Scripture:
In our attitudes, words, and conduct, we must strive to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). Despite being equal with God, Jesus came into this world with a heart of humility and service. He treated sinners with mercy, patience, and love. He taught truth powerfully and clearly, but in a way that never failed to reflect God’s love for humanity.
As we strive to be the hands, feet, and mouthpiece of Christ, our commitment must be to do the same—to be humble servants who declare and demonstrate the love of God to a lost and dying world.
We must be constantly mindful of our own dependence upon the mercy and grace of God. The only difference between us and those in the world around us is that we have been blessed to know Christ and to receive the cleansing that His blood provides. We are all sinners who, based on our own righteousness, are not worthy of God’s love or forgiveness. To use the words of the apostle Paul, “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
That simple fact should cause us to share the Gospel with humility instead of haughtiness and attempt to restore the erring with meekness instead of arrogance. As Jesus taught, we must be mindful of the log that is in our own eye as we attempt to remove the speck from the eye of another (Matthew 7:3-5).
We must allow love to rule in our hearts and lives. The New Testament is replete with teachings and commandments to love—to love our fellow Christians (Romans 12:10) and to love those who are in the world, even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). The Bible describes love in this way: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
In other words, love is not obnoxious. It is gentle and compassionate, humble and sincere. According to 1 John 4:7-12, love allows us to know God, to imitate God, and to have God abide in us. Jesus also teaches that it is love that allows the world to know that we are following Him (John 13:35).
We must share the Word of God with respect and care. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.” In a similar vein, the Hebrews writer proclaims: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword …” (Hebrews 4:12). Every weapon has a purpose but also has the ability to do great harm if used recklessly and irresponsibly. The Word of God is our weapon, given to us to defeat the attacks of Satan. It can provide “teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:17).
God’s Word is a good and powerful tool, but if wielded recklessly or even maliciously, it can do great damage to the cause of Christ. We must be passionate about sharing God’s Word, but we must also understand the responsibility of wielding the sword of the Spirit with great care.
In our zeal for Christ and the Gospel, it can be easy to sometimes behave obnoxiously in our confidence. However, a godly life does not require haughtiness. Instead, it requires humility, love, and kindness. May God help us to conduct ourselves in ways that reflect God’s love and that bring glory to Him.
By Rusty Hills