Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can most of the time cause you to wonder why people insist on posting such hurtful things. These posts may not even be directed towards you, but you feel the painful impacts nonetheless. In today's political and social climate, we Christians feel the need to state our beliefs on many issues, but many times, our impact is lessened because our words are harsh, biting, and critical. Our beliefs matter, and so does share them, but the way we share them is the defining factor as to whether we will be listened to.
So, how can we as Christians be effective in spreading the gospel?
Speak the truth in love
The way we approach issues matters, and judging those we disagree with will get us nowhere. Just as we don't respond when people speak to us with sarcasm, rudeness, and anger, nonbelievers and even other believers don't respond well to this either. Ephesians 4:15 says "But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head--Christ." This verse says it all--through approaching differences with love, spiritual growth occurs. Speaking the truth in love is not hiding your beliefs, but it is choosing your words carefully and stressing the love of Christ no matter the situation. An approach of love and a Christ-like attitude will always get you further than off-handed insults and mean words. Because we have to defy our human-nature of sin, speaking the truth in love takes more time than just speaking your first thought, but it pays off so much more in the end.
Form relationships with those we disagree with
When you first meet a person, you don't immediately tell them everything that you think is wrong with them. This example takes it a little to the extreme, but the concept is the same. If you see someone acting in sin, but do not take the time to learn about them, you cannot effectively lovingly call them out on their sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:15 says "Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother." This verse is clear as to how we should address those living in sin--as a brother. Our relationship with those we are calling out is important as to how our words will be received. By forming more relationships, you not only help build the other person up in Christ, but you help build your relationship in Christ.
Be ready for rejection
People won't always be willing to change, no matter how well you approach the situation, but this does not mean that we should stop loving them with the love of Christ. If anything, when faced with rejection, we should show even more love towards that person in order to show them a true picture of Jesus. If we are rejected, it does not mean that we are wrong or that we should give up. We as Christians should use rejection as an opportunity to shine brighter for Christ. Rejection is not an excuse for us to go back to our sinful nature of hatefulness and anger.
Be willing to accept correction
No matter how much we want to believe we are perfect, we aren't. If we consistently believe that we are better than the person we are calling out of sin, then we are making a huge mistake. Romans 3:10 says that "there is no one righteous, not even one," and we are not an exception. In order to correct others, we must be willing to take correction, whether it be from other people or through conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is so important that we as Christians do not approach issues with a "holier than thou" mentality, because we aren't.
Our motives matter when we approach issues of all types, and most of the time, our motives determine the response of the other person. So, my challenge for you is, next time you see someone post something that goes against your beliefs, or you know of someone's sins, think about where your heart is before you respond: are you attempting to further God's kingdom or are you just responding out of anger or hurt?