Uncompromising Witness

The great challenge in this life is to not lose our composure under fire. Can we maintain our position in Christ without deferring to the flesh? In my early years of ministry I was asked to teach the largest Sunday school class in our church. The previous teacher was polished and well liked, but he had a moral lapse and was quietly set aside. The first Sunday I taught the class I gave an introduction to the message and was about to make the transition when a man said, “That is a stupid introduction!” I asked, “In what way do think it was stupid?” He back pedaled and I went on with the lesson. Not a good beginning!

Sensing that something else was behind that remark, I called on his house the next evening. I have a 48-hour rule that I try to keep. If I sense that something is wrong in my relationship with another, I try not to let 48 hours go by without addressing the problem. He was definitely surprised to see me walking up to his house. They invited me in, and I didn’t waste any time. I asked him if there was something wrong with our relationship, and asked how I could make it better. He stammered for a little bit and admitted to being a little too quick to speak his mind. I was tempted to share Proverbs 18:2 with him, but then I would be no different if I did!

Actually, it was a very good beginning. I validated my ministry by not falling apart under fire. The class asked me to be their retreat speaker three months later. A couple complimented me for not falling apart the first day. I didn’t tell them that my flesh was ready to fold.

I was conducting a conference in Nebraska and found out that a very legalistic preacher was tearing me apart, and calling me the most dangerous man in America! The pastor of the host church asked if I would meet with local pastors who wanted some answers. The critic sent a lawyer to the meeting who hammered me for more than an hour. Three pastors came up afterwards and said, “We learned a lot from what you shared, but what impressed us the most was how you were able to stand up against the constant barrage.” I told them I was not going to let that man determine who I am. I didn’t tell them what my flesh wanted to do!

If we are going to make a stand for righteousness sake, we can’t violate the fruit of the Spirit. We lose the argument and destroy our witness when we resort to flesh patterns. I am unequivocally pro-life, but when you can’t tell the abortionists from the pro-lifers unless you read their signs, it is time to stop the protest. They would have accomplished a lot more if they had sat silently and prayed.

Dr. Neil

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