December 17, 2018
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) “Instead, speaking the truth in love…”
I received a thoughtful note regarding my recent blog post about suicide. In that article, I reminded God’s people that suicide is not the unforgivable sin and that God’s grace is surely extended to the Christian who despairs and ends their life. One reader made a good point. Namely, how can we be sure that comments such as mine might not actually encourage a person to commit suicide. It’s a fair question and the answer is simply that we cannot be sure. There is always danger in preaching and teaching; our words might serve a destructive purpose.
We might be misunderstood. Over the years, I have taught that while God hates divorce it is not the unforgivable sin. But someone might proceed to a divorce because my words “gave them permission.” I have preached that drunkenness is forbidden in the Word of God, but alcohol is not condemned per se. What if a person hears that and returns to drinking? That might happen.
The preacher/teacher must weigh the value in his or her words. My point in the suicide blog was to remind Christians about spiritual warfare and reassure others that God’s grace will cover their lost loved one who belongs to Christ. In short, I think truth must be told even though it comes with a risk.
Over the years, I have preached that God’s Word considers the homosexual lifestyle to be abominable to God. It does, and it is. Some left the church. Some blamed me because their gay son or daughter left the church. Dealing with the truth is a challenging business.
Many years ago, an emotionally disturbed man insisted that I drop everything and drive several hours up into Canada and meet with him as he was in despair. I was quite willing to do that, but I literally could not do it that night because of a commitment to my family. (A Pastor who allows everyone to dictate his or her schedule will burn out within a few years.) Anyway, that night the man ended his life. I was bothered but I did not blame myself. He made a choice. In any case, I trust the Lord Jesus Christ who said: Matthew 10:29 (NIV) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”
God allowed the man to take that step. I was sorry he did that, but I cannot serve the Lord if I let the Devil accuse me of everyone else’s sins. So, when ministering to others be assured that we will do it imperfectly. Thus, we must pray that the intent of our words will be blessed, and no harm will come from them.
Blessings! Pastor Alberta