Perfect Courtesy, part two

We’ve established the call to be ambassadors for Jesus, but today I want to dive into scripture and look at how we’re supposed to relate to others as we carry out this duty.  We’re going to look at three big chunks of scripture, and I want to highlight a few things in each one.  

1 Peter 3:13-16 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being 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, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Verse 15 tells us to be ready to make a defense for our hope and faith.  I immediately think of a lawyer when I see that word defense there.  It says to be prepared to make a defense.  Lawyers don’t go into a trial unprepared, they’ve usually poured huge amounts of time into research and work to get ready for this day.  We should approach being ambassadors for Jesus the same way.  Well studied, and prepared to make our defense whenever the opportunity shall arise.  

BUT…

We should do it with GENTLENESS and RESPECT.  I want you to remember those two words.

Titus 3:1-2  Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Let’s focus in on Verse 2.  It tells us to avoid quarreling, first of all.  I heard the term Facebook Evangelism for the first time recently and I really liked it.  Social media is such a powerful tool and yet it also seems to corrupt us in some small way.  The ability to insult people, to argue with them, to provoke, it seems to come disgustingly easily to us on social media.  Ambassadors of Jesus could probably use a social media class of some sort, because we seem to be particularly adept at quarreling with those of other beliefs on social media.  I’m all for discussion and even disagreement, I actually think they’re vital to growth, but we as a people have lost the ability to civilly disagree.  We just have.  It’s a lost skill.  We are right and others are wrong and if we can’t convince them in one move (if we even bother to make a move) then they’re not just wrong but they’re also ignorant.  I know I’m generalizing a bit here, but sadly I’m not wrong.  Trust me, I wish that I was.  Far too many modern Jesus ambassadors seem to not only seek out quarrels or arguments on social media, they seem to enjoy them.  And yet here’s the Bible telling us specifically to AVOID quarrels.

In this verse it also tells us what I find to be maybe the most profound two words I’ve read all year.  It tells us to show PERFECT COURTESY to all people.  That’s a phrase so strong I struggle to wrap my head around it.  It’s not just calling for courtesy, but PERFECT courtesy.  And somehow I feel like I can proclaim that we aren’t even close to perfect courtesy.  We struggle to even get close to courtesy.  PERFECT?  Ha.  

So remember that idea of PERFECT COURTESY.  

2 Timothy 2:24-25  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

Another call to not be quarrelsome here, but then look at what else we’re seeing.  Be kind to everyone, correcting with GENTLENESS.  

So here’s what these three sets of verses have told us about how to deal with and talk to people, which is something we’re going to be doing all the time in our position as an ambassador of Jesus.  

Defend our faith with GENTLENESS and RESPECT.  

Avoid quarreling, be GENTLE, and show PERFECT COURTESY to all people.

Don’t be quarrelsome, be kind to everyone, and correct with GENTLENESS.  

My dear friends, if we’re fighting with people about God, if we’re arguing with them, if we’re at all disrespecting or insulting them, if we’re being anything other than gentle and kind, WE ARE DOING IT WRONG.  And that’s not just my opinion, that’s the way of things as told by this beautiful book known as the Bible that is holy and wise and designed to guide us.

I almost never get angry.  It’s like a mythical moment to see me angry, something that most people probably think is just a legend.  But I’m gonna be honest with you, one thing that makes me angry is when I see Christians act as angry, disrespectful, quarrelsome ambassadors of Jesus.  In doing so, they hurt relations between whoever sees/hears what they’re saying and Jesus.  They’re harming instead of helping, and they’re doing it in the name of Jesus.  I’ve been tempted several times to confront these people either in person or on social media, but it’s always in a moment of anger.  

So instead, I wanted to dive into the Bible and let it guide my response, and in doing so I don’t feel anger, I feel love.  I love the passion these people have, I love their willingness to represent Jesus.  I love all my brother and sister ambassadors and I love all the people we’re trying to reach in this world.  I love you enough to remind all of us, myself included, how the Bible teaches us to deal with others.  It teaches us that the proper way to deal with others is not in anger, and it’s not via insults, and it’s not by picking fights.  It’s with gentleness and perfect courtesy.

If we’re being honest, I think each of us ambassadors will admit that we have probably failed at one time or another.  When I was a young Christian I remember getting insulted by someone I was trying to talk to about Jesus and I yelled at them and called them an idiot.  Perfect courtesy?  Not quite.  I’ve been asked questions about my faith before and had no answer and instead of admitting that, I gave a panicked, mumbly, vague, and probably confusing response.  Prepared defense?  Not quite.  I’m telling you this because I want you to understand that sometimes we don’t get it right.  But the Bible is there for us.  When we stray, it can pull us back, and when we’re ignorant, it can educate us.  And when we need to know how to interact with others, when we need a reminder on how we’re to treat those we’re talking to about Jesus, the good book is there for us and its instruction can be summed up in two words.  Perfect courtesy.

PRAYER

Father God, today I’m just asking for you to line us up with your word.  I feel like we’re missing the mark. We’re not treating others with perfect courtesy and gentleness and respect the way that you told us to.  Forgive us for the ways we fall short.  We’re your ambassadors, and I ask right now that you help make us better at filling that position.  Flood us with your love, grant us hearts so compassionate that gentleness and perfect courtesy are the only options for us, that there is no other reaction living inside of us.  I wanna win nations for you and introduce multitudes to your goodness and your love.  Please help me be a better ambassador, and please grant me more opportunities to fulfill that role.  We love you Lord and I thank you so much that you work through us despite our imperfections.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

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