Recently on KLOVE, a caller asked, “What should I do about a coworker who constantly curses around me?” The DJ responded, “Do nothing.” He explained that if you say something, all you have done is tell this person that we, as Christians, have rules and you just broke one. That will not bring them to Jesus.
Words have power. They can encourage or they can hurt. They can heal or they can destroy.
Maybe one of our greatest opportunities to witness God’s love to others is through the words we use. Jesus told us to love other people, and that’s how they will come to know Him. So often our lack of righteousness comes from speaking too quickly and harshly, making others think that we are judging and/or condemning them because of their behavior.
No one wants to be criticized. Perhaps the kind words we say to someone are they only positive ones they hear on a given day. Critical words can deflate any progress being made toward a goal, and cause people to throw their hands up and believe that they can’t do it. It is important that we encourage unbelievers through our words and by showing love.
This is illustrated beautifully in John 4:6-42 through Jesus and His encounter with the woman at the well. Jesus had been travelling and was tired from a long walk. He sat beside the well around noon, and a Samaritan woman came to retrieve water. Jesus asked her for a drink of water, which surprised her. There had been a long-standing animosity between the Jewish people and the Samaritans, and therefore she couldn’t believe that this Jewish man would speak to her. He went on to reveal to her that He knew that she was living in sin, but that He was the Messiah and He had come to save everyone regardless of their race, social position, or past sins.
He spared her dignity and dealt with her tenderly when confronting her with her sin. As a result, she shared her experience with others and many in the town became believers. Had Jesus spoken to her in a condescending or harsh manner, the outcome probably would have been a lot different. He gave her merciful words that healed her soul, instead of pointing out her flaws which might have put her in defense mode.
How many people would tell the woman that she has to get her life straightened out before she can begin to follow Christ? How many times have people used it as an excuse, saying they aren’t ready because they need to change first? That isn’t true! Change isn’t a prerequisite. On the contrary, it will come as a result of following Christ and allowing Him to transform their lives.
Susan shares this story..
“Loving the unlovable is sometimes a difficult thing to do. I recall one time several years ago, a lady who worked at a local strip club started coming to our church after the youth went through the neighborhood passing out information regarding our church and service times. One morning, there she was...alcohol on her breath, but nicely dressed... an African American woman with pink hair. Though there were a few second glances, I must say, she was welcomed with open arms. People accepted her, embraced her and made her feel welcomed. She would often frequent the altar to pray, but would go back out and do the same thing week after week.
I do not know what happened to her. I think she was evicted and had to move. But my hope is that the love she saw during those several months by people who loved her without condemnation, somehow caused her to change her heart and come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. We never know who the Lord will send our way, and we need to be ready at all times, as I Peter 3:15 says, to give the reason for the hope we have in us through Jesus Christ.”
Do you and I love unconditionally? Are we prepared to give an answer to the "whosoevers" we encounter? Will our words lead others to the well where they will meet Jesus? Let's love the way Jesus loved. If we can do that with the best of our abilities, the world will be a better place...one person at a time.
Passages to Ponder:
Colossians 4:6- Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
James 1:19-20- Understand this my dear brothers and sisters: You all must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Proverbs 16:24- Kind words are like honey- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Contributors: Karen Bromby, Susan Haynes, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, Shawna Nelson and Kristy Tolley