Sunday, August 1, 2010

Like a Fire In My Heart

God’s Word isn’t "popular." God gave Jeremiah some hard truths to proclaim and Jeremiah said:

“...the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:8,9)

God's people have always had hard truths to proclaim and we are no different....

Our culture believes that there are many ways to God, yet God's Word clearly teaches that the only way of salvation is through God's incredible gift of His Son Jesus (1 John 5:10-12). How can we possibly keep this news to ourselves?

However, when we share this truth, the majority of people will call us narrow-minded and intolerant.

In a culture that believes there are very few rules for sexual behavior, the Bible teaches that God created sex exclusively for the marriage union of a man and a woman (1 Cor. 6:9,13; 7:2), a design that brings us safety, pleasure and fulfillment.  Living outside of God's design brings spiritual, emotional and physical damage, so how can we possibly keep this news to ourselves?

However, when we share it, the majority of people will call us prudish, out-of-touch, homophobes. It’s more popular to affirm every type of sexual behavior or simply keep our mouths shut.

These are just two of many areas where the Bible comes into direct conflict with the popular views of our culture. However, we sometimes receive insult and reproach because we share God’s truth in ungodly ways.

In the last year, I’ve received a steady stream of inappropriate emails from Christians(1). These emails have contained unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, caustic satire, and some have “proved” Obama is a Muslim by piecing together video clips out of context (similar to last month's bogus claims that Shirley Sherrod, a Dept. of Agriculture employee, was racist).  

I'm disappointed in how we, as Christians, are dealing with many social and political issues in our country, and I think we need to rethink some of our conclusions.  In addition, we need to remember that how we say something is just as important as what we say. I recently forgot this principle in a personal situation, and I did more harm than good.  So let me suggest a few questions that can help us share God's Word in love.

Is this God’s Truth or My Opinion?
In the political arena, we need to identify which issues have clear Scriptural absolutes involved, like abortion and racial equality, and which are open for differences of opinion, like health care. We also need to quit insisting that there is only one party that reflects Christian values.  The Republican Party has a history of racial injustice and the Democratic party has a history of promoting abortion.  Neither party is "God's party."

We also need to be careful in non-political areas. When I home-schooled, I sometimes lost sight of the fact that homeschooling was not the only godly way to educate children.

Is this the right time and place to share this Biblical truth?
Unsaved people typically need to understand God’s love and salvation before they can understand God’s commands. Unfortunately, we often spend more time sharing God's hatred of sin than sharing His passion to save the sinner. Years ago, I regularly witnessed to a woman who used a lot of profanity.  I chose not to correct her because I wanted her to be comfortable sharing with me, and I realized her profanity was only a symptom of her need for God.

Do I have my facts straight?
When we lived in Hungary I remember our land lady telling us that President Bush had ordered rescue workers during Katrina to save the whites and let the blacks die!  She'd heard it on the Hungarian news. Whether it is Bush, Obama or Sherrod, we must be careful to get our facts straight.

Am I sharing this truth in love or in self-righteousness?
What is our motivation for sharing God’s truth? If it’s love, we will show respect for people and for authority whether we voted for them or not, whether we agree with them or not. We will treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

Jeremiah said that God’s word was in his heart “like a fire” that he could not hold inside. He had to share God’s truth no matter how much rejection it brought him.

I pray that I will have this same passion for God’s truth. But I also pray that I will share it in the most effective way—in the power of God’s Spirit… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22,23).

1--I believe that some Christians passing along these emails are well-meaning, but misinformed.  They don't realize that many of the "facts" in these emails originate in ungodly organizations and websites whose purpose it is to confuse and misinform people.  

Written by Gail Purath, the manager of the WOW blog, a mother and grandmother, married to her best friend for almost 40 years.

Scripture Reading:Jeremiah 16-36; Psalm 107-109Key passage for devotion: Jeremiah 20:8,9


  1. Gail,
    When my son James and I showed up in a class at Crossroads church we really didn't know anyone there. We were what many would consider a fragmented family. A divorced mom trying to patch up wounds and wear a brave face for her children and others. You and Michael were so warm toward us. The enemy constantly told me we didn't belong there, that we were damaged goods. As we sat in that small group each Sunday you and Michael made us feel loved; we were slowly healing. Thank you for making excellent, well written points in this blog, but thank you mostly for SHOWING the very kind of love you describe. I have always seen God in your spirit and I thank you for being an example of the kind of strong humility God wants us clothed in as we reach out to the world around us. Your "picture" really is worth a thousand words. Selwyn

  2. I'm with you, Gail. I too have received those kind of emails and I don't pass them on. Loving people where they are at gives us more opportunities to impact them than if we jump right in and try to correct them. Elaine

  3. Gail,
    Thanks for being bold enough to bring to light our (Christian brothers & sisters) weaknesses in the ways that we try to share Christ. So many of us like to point fingers as though we were self righteous and have no sin. If we could only spend the time lifting others up and loving them instead of forming prejudices and opinions on matters that aren't of God. Ultimately, God is the judge, not us. We are commanded to love others just as God loves us. Without this love and humility, we are simply hypocrites. We will never reach those who are lost by wearing our self-righteous masks and pointing our noses in the air. It is when we stoop down low through our own trials that we really learn how to love unconditionally. If we could only let go of some of the generational ideas and learned behaviors that are not of God, we could change the world. May we all examine the ways that we attempt to witness to others. May each attempt be God centered and not self-centered! However; we do need to speak the truth from God's Word with discernment taking into consideration the person's circumstances.

  4. Thank you for this wise reminder and for the humble way in which you shared it. The questions you suggest we consider before sharing our faith with nonbelievers and seekers are also important to consider when speaking with fellow Christians. I know that I have been responsible for hurting a brother or sister because of the way in which I aired an opinion, unaware of the past hurt or current struggle he or she was facing.

    The enemy would love to continue to fragment the church by engaging us in debates over politics, education, family or financial decisions, and many other issues. Yes, our faith has bearing on all of these areas, but Christ calls us to share his love and offer of salvation with the world ... not to insist that all who follow Him or are considering that choice conform to identical views in all areas. Let's allow one another some freedom and trust the Holy Spirit to lead, correct when necessary, and continue to open our hearts to brothers and sisters who are different from ourselves.



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