“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”(Heb.4:15) Jesus has been there. He’s been exactly where we are today. When we face temptations that threaten our faithfulness to God, Jesus can sympathize. He can sympathize because he’s been there. The difference is Jesus never yielded to temptation and sin and we do. I’m glad he knows how being tempted feels. I’m glad, even though he never sinned, that he can still sympathize with those of us who do. The good news is not only does Jesus sympathize with us when we are tempted, he also helps us. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”(Heb.2:18) The truth of the matter is we all need help at times. We’re tempted on a regular basis and we need Jesus’ help to overcome the temptation. When tempted or feeling weak, we can immediately pray and know that Jesus hears us and is with us and willing to help and strengthen us. Having been where we are and understanding the struggle we have with temptation, Jesus is willing and able to help us. It should encourage us all to press on in faithfulness to God, knowing that Jesus sympathizes with us when we’re tempted and that he is also there to help us.
I remember many years ago fishing on a river with a couple of friends. The river was moving fast that day. We’d motor upstream in the boat then shut it off and fish for a while. The whole time we were fishing we were also drifting. We’d look up and realize we were headed right back where we had come from. The interesting thing about drifting on that river that day is the fact that we hardly noticed it. Unless we paid very close attention we didn’t notice we were drifting. I’m afraid the same thing happens in our spiritual lives. At times in our spiritual lives we become complacent and begin to drift. The problem with drifting spiritually is you don’t always notice and you really have no aim or direction. “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”(Heb.2:1) When we drift we often times don’t realize it until we have drifted way off course. That’s exactly what Satan wants for us. Satan wants us to become so comfortable in our spiritual lives that we begin to drift away from God and then let our guard down. When we are comfortable enough to let our guard down, Satan is more than comfortable enough to strike with a temptation. To the Christian who is already drifting from God, that temptation may be all that it takes to lead him or her from the Good Shepherd’s pasture to the Devil’s den. Let us be purposeful in our spiritual lives so that we don’t drift away for the Lord. Make it a point to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer with Him and to spend time with God’s people. Purposeful Christians may drift, but they certainly won’t drift far.
“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”(Philemon 6) We’re all about benefits. In fact, the more benefits the better. It may come as a surprise to you that I believe there are two benefits of sharing your faith. That may sound a little odd because we tend to get nervous and even avoid sharing our faith at times. I hope the thought of benefits of sharing your faith both encourages you and motivates you. The first benefit of sharing our faith is the possibility that we might save a soul. The whole point in sharing our faith in Christ with others is to win souls. Nothing is more encouraging than to be a link in someone’s conversion chain. Chances are if you lead someone to Christ, you’ll be even more motivated to reach out to others for Him. Remember, “he who wins souls is wise.”(Prov.11:30) The next benefit we can enjoy from sharing our faith Paul mentions in his personal letter to Philemon. Paul encourages Philemon to share his faith, “so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”(Philemon 6) Could it be that those who are active in sharing their faith have a more complete understanding of the good things we have in Christ? That seems to be Paul’s point. Maybe we overlook or take for granted all the wonderful blessings we have in Christ. But when we share our faith and teach about all of the good things we have in Christ, we then have a better understanding of all that we do have as Christians. It’s almost as if we are teaching ourselves as we share our faith with others. As we begin to have a better understanding of all that we have in Christ, our faith will deepen and our relationship with God will grow stronger. There’s nothing more important than sharing our faith. It’s truly a win, win as we have the opportunity to lead a soul to Christ and to grow in our understanding of all the good things we have in Christ. Don’t be afraid or nervous about sharing your faith because the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Unfortunately, I’ve been asked countless times over the years about who’s going to heaven. Will this group be in heaven? Will they make it to heaven? Surely they don’t have a chance for eternal life? My answer is pretty well the same every time, I’m not the judge. I’m not, I’m not the judge, oh, and neither are you. I know what the Bible says and I know what one must do to become a Christian. I know as a gospel preacher and a Christian what my responsibility is to lost souls, and it’s not to tell them that they are going to hell. I fully understand that not everyone will make it to heaven. I also comprehend that the way to heaven is narrow. Jesus verified both of these points in the Sermon on the Mount.(Mt.7:13-14) If someone is living a horrific life indulging in a horrible sin, it’s not my job or yours to inform them that they are going to hell. You would think just in our nature that we would want to help this lost person. Telling someone they are on their way to hell doesn’t help them at all, even if it is true. My job and responsibility as a Christian and preacher and your responsibility as a Christian is to simply teach them the gospel. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”(Mk.16:15) Paul wrote, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”(I Cor.1:17) Our job is not to condemn anyone to hell but rather teach them how to get to heaven. Being judgmental doesn’t help a lost soul, but telling them the story of Jesus and His cross will help them in this life and the next. Don’t judge a person who is already hurting spiritually and possibly physically from the sting of sin. Lovingly share with them the eternal hope that is only found in Jesus. Remember, I’m not the judge and neither are you!
Several years ago we were in the market for health insurance for our family. The agent came to our home and explained all the details of the policy including the monthly premium. He seemed nice enough and willing to answer our questions. As he was finishing up it was clear that he wanted a commitment and money right then on the spot. I expressed how much we appreciated his time and how impressed we were with the health plan he was offering but that we’d like a little time to discuss it and then I’d be back in touch soon. His mood changed quickly as he jumped up from his seat and proceeded to gather his things while stating, “you preachers always need more time, you can never make a decision” as he stormed out of our house. When we did make our decision about health coverage guess who didn’t receive a phone call? It’s very possible that I would have purchased health coverage from the man from my story, but not after he acted the way he did. I believe this very thing happens in the church. We want so desperately to win souls and make a difference in the lives of others for Jesus. But how’s our approach? How do we come across to the outsider? Do they feel we are being rude, critical or judgmental? If so, you probably won’t lead that person to Christ. In fact, you probably played a role in pushing them away from Christ. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”(Col.4:5-6) Our approach with people really does matter. If you turn someone away by your approach, you won’t win their soul to the Lord. Paul encouraged that our conversations “be always full of grace, seasoned with salt”. May we consider our approach with others so they will desire to hear the message we want to share.