by Pastor Tim Burt
One of the more difficult paradoxes that one lives with as a Christian is to hate sin - often making us look like we can't stand the person who has the foul mouth, sinful lifestyle, or perverted outlook on life, and yet being loving and merciful to them so that we might win them to Jesus. When I think of these verses I often remember an incident back in the days after I had just accepted the Lord as my savior - in 1977. I was very new in the Lord. I had at the age of 23, just begun to read the Bible for the first time in my life. I really knew nothing about God’s Word and consequently had not changed much about my life. About all I did was pray the prayer asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Any change that would eventually come from learning the Word of God was yet to come.
At this state and time of my new Christian walk, I remember sitting at the back of an airplane. We had just landed in a city and all the passengers had gotten off. Being a flight attendant, I was sitting around for two hours until we took the next leg of our trip. Myself and two other flight attendants sat around talking about what we were doing on the upcoming weekend. As I was telling them of my plans, one of the pilots strolled to the back of the plane where we were and started to listen to our conversation. This pilot had earlier mentioned to me that he was a Christian. I told him that I was one also. I said I was because the person that helped me ask Jesus into my heart told me I now was. In reality, I didn’t feel all that much like one.
He read me the riot act for about the next 10 minutes and then stormed off. I just sat there trying to figure out what he was so mad about. I really didn't know. I thought I was being really nice to my best friend.
The reason I was this blinded and naive was because my mind was completely unrenewed to the Word of God. I knew nothing. I didn't know what I was doing was wrong. I hadn’t started reading the Bible yet and didn’t know that what I was planning was something contrary to God’s Word. Perhaps I should have somehow known or figured it out, but I didn’t and I didn’t have anyone mentoring me nor had I ever attended a Bible teaching church yet.
About a year later I figured out what that pilot was so mad about. He truly hated sin and obviously my plans for a stag party were not Christlike. But, he was anything but gentle with me. All it would have taken was just asking a few questions and he would have learned I was a brand new Christian. At that point he could have shown me a few things from the Bible that would have helped me make a better decision. I wanted to do what was right. I just didn't know better at the point in my new Christian walk.
I've never forgotten that incident. Not because I was mad at the pilot. That part makes me laugh. No, I haven't forgotten because I have learned that many people that call themselves Christian aren't. They were raised in a religious home but never read the Bible and have not known to make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives, read the Bible and let the Holy Spirit direct their life. Other Christians I've met just haven't learned that much about the Bible. As Christians, Jude 1:22-23 TLB helps define part of our assignment on this earth. “Try to help those who argue against you. Be merciful to those who doubt. Save some by snatching them as from the very flames of hell itself. And as for others, help them to find the Lord by being kind to them, but be careful that you yourselves aren't pulled along into their sins. Hate every trace of their sin while being merciful to them as sinners.”
Many who call themselves Christians just aren't schooled in the Bible and in God's ways. We can help them grow in a revelation of God, His love, and His Word. I have found that many people want to do the right thing. They just need to be taught and encouraged - in love. Helping others grow in the knowledge of God's Word has been truly one of the greatest joys of my life. Condemning people that live sinful lives doesn't work. Either they know they live a sinful life and they could care less what you think, or they are just ignorant of what Jesus has done for them and of how God desires them to live. Opening their eyes to the blessings of living for God is the start of a life-changing experience. Take what you know and give it away. The patience and love you show others will come back to bless you in your life.
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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