Question:

Should I be trying to correct every little act of unrighteousness? Perhaps "little" isn't the right word. In my school so many people are sinning and frequently too. How useful could I be trying to convert every one that I see? I don't see how I could teach and develop a relationship with everyone around me and have it be effective. It seems that in America most have the general idea of Christianity and have unfortunately turned away from it. At the moment I see myself being most useful correcting astray "Christian" friends and non-believing friends and then trying to make more friends. I don't think people I am distant from will be very likely to listen to me on matters of Christianity. So overall point of this paragraph, there are so many sinning people around is it an issue that I don't go after them all in attempts of rebuke or conversion? And would you agree with the idea that people are more likely to listen to those they are friends with? I would certainly like to try and save people but there are so many and I am just one person.

Also how would you recomend overcoming fear? In one of the lists of those who are not going to be saved I am afraid that I may be under the group of cowardly because I am hesitant in sharing the scriptures with people. Often times I fear that if I go outright and say to peole if you continue in unrighteous behaviors odds are that you are going to hell (I say odds are because I am not God), people will reject whatever progress toward God that they have made and just quit altoghether. How I would currently go about handling such issues is try to work out a few they have to make bad behaviors at a time and pray in intercession for them. Although I do understand that other people must ultimately make their own decisions. I also fear persecution sometimes. What advice could you give me on all this?


Answer:

You are limiting your view of teaching. Teaching is done by example, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). So when you don't use profanity, or don't joke about sexual things, people notice. They might not say anything directly, but they will get uncomfortable around you.

"For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:3-4).

There is an interesting verse about Noah, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7). Notice that Noah condemned the world simply by stepping into the ark. He proved that God could be followed and that the rest of the world had no excuse.

Teaching generally means getting people to think about what they are doing more accurately. It shouldn't be a knock down, drag out fight. "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:23-26).

You talk to people as the opportunity arises to make a point. I do so a lot, but I don't stop people on the street to tell them they are wrong. But I might strike up a conversation with a clerk and then invite him to worship. If someone meantions that they are living with their girlfriend, I might reply, "Wouldn't it be better for both of you to get married?" What I look for is openings where a deeper conversation can be conducted if the other person is willing.

I would guess that the fear you are feeling is the dread of confrontation. However, it is a misplaced fear because you don't often have to enter into a battle with people. You nudge them along toward the truth. If they ask what you think of lying, or some other sin, then you can be blunt with the truth because they wish to hear it. But sometimes it takes a while before someone desires to talk to you. I focus on working with whomever I dealing with at the moment. I can't reach everyone, but I can reach a few and that is important. "Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest"" (Matthew 9:37-38).

When you show someone the truth, but word or example, how they respond is up to them. You are not responsible if someone rejects the truth. Your duty is to represent the truth to the best of your ability. Consider Jesus. Many of the Jews rejected him, but the fault lied with the Jews, not Jesus. People are going to take offense at a good man, simply because "good" is different from what they believe. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12). Avoiding conflict never works. You don't go out stirring up conflicts, but they are going to happen because people will reject righteousness, which means they will reject anyone living righteously.