A young woman wrote me and said that she feared that she had become a "stumbling block" to the young man she cared so deeply about. For a long time, she had tried to minister to this man, and to help him experience the love, forgiveness, and salvation of God. She desperately wanted to set a Christlike example for him, and to prove to him that not all Christians were "hypocrites," as he called them. Instead, she began spending more time with this man and his non-believing friends, and less time in Christian fellowship. She decided to be "less preachy, self-righteous, and judgmental," so that she could gain the acceptance of this new crowd, in order to become a "bridge" between them and Jesus. Eventually, she allowed this man to seduce her, and she said that since then, he has wanted nothing to do with her. As hurt as she was, she was most concerned that her sin would keep this young man from turning to the Lord. She feared that her ungodly behavior confirmed this man's suspicions about Christians, and about God Himself.
This young woman's experience made me think of some of the verses that address this very subject in the Bible. When the apostle Paul was speaking to some religious people of his day, he said: "You are so proud of knowing God's laws, but you dishonor Him by breaking them. No wonder the Scriptures say that the world speaks evil of God because of you." (Romans 2:23-24 TLB) Paul was trying to get across to these folks that their character and conduct were a reflection on the Lord, and the unbelieving world was closely watching them. That's why he instructed: "In everything set them an example by doing what is good...so that in every way, [you] will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." (Titus 2:7, 10 NIV) The young woman who wrote me had the perfect opportunity to show the man she cared about that Jesus is real, and that His followers can be a lot like Him. Instead, she chose to compromise her walk with God, and to forfeit her chance to plant some seeds of faith in this man's life. Proverbs says: "If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring." (Proverbs 25:26 NLT) Compromising Christians will not only have little impact on the world for Christ, but they can actually do more harm than good.
This woman's convictions were severely tested, but the Lord still expected her to do the right thing, considering He had equipped her with Holy Spirit power when she gave her life to Christ. The Bible is filled with Scriptures calling us to apply higher standards to our lives. Paul wrote: "We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God." (2 Corinthians 6:3-4 NLT) Scripture makes it abundantly clear that our conduct and the cause of Christ are closely linked, and the Lord expects us to act accordingly. The Message Bible says it this way: "Our work as God's servants gets validated - or not - in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly...in hard times, tough times, bad times." (2 Corinthians 6:4) Because we are being watched at all times - by believers and non-believers alike - it's absolutely essential that we remain true to the Lord, His Word, and His ways. And we must be prepared to stand alone, and to be lonely, if the occasion calls for it. Just last night, my family went to the movies without me. I have lost count of all the times that this has happened because I hold myself to higher standards than most Christians do. I don't always like being left behind, but I have gotten the revelation that my choices affect other people, and that is what I try to focus on.
Maybe there are people in your life right now who you desperately want to lead to Christ. Perhaps you have already tried to speak to them about the message of the Gospel, and they have been unreceptive. The Scriptures reveal that setting a Christlike example can go a long way in reaching folks like these, when it says: "Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words." (1 Peter 3:2 TLB) Don't ever forget that God has equipped you with supernatural power to make a difference in this world. My advice to you today is straight from the Word of God - "Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity"! (Colossians 4:5 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, I regret all the times that I squandered precious opportunities You gave me to lead others into Your kingdom. Remind me often about these responsibilities and privileges of mine, as a believer in Christ. Thank You that as I strive to live like Jesus, You will use me to impact this world for all eternity!
Promise-Power Point: God has equipped me with Holy-Spirit power to touch and change lives for His glory, and He will use me to do exactly that when I am being led by His Spirit and His Word.
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