One factor that is evident in today’s society is that people want to live in a painless and numb environment. They do not want to hear or feel anything discomforting. Most people do not want to even discuss hell and eternal punishment because of the fear it invokes, thus making it uncomfortable for them to even think about pain and suffering.
One of the hardest things I personally find to do in life is to decide how to react to situations that I find myself in with people. Discernment is vital, but not always easy to come by. For example, in tough situations, do I show compassion or am I to be what appears to be harsh by being blunt? If you are like me, you realize the bottom line is not about truth (either way is truth), it is about getting it right!
Jude is one of my favorite books in the Bible, even though it is only one chapter long. The reason I favor it so much is that it is filled with great instruction and insight in a very concise manner. Because I do not want my emotions or feelings getting in the way when I witness or deal with people, I need to be led by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. Jude verses 22-23 remind me that I must approach everyone with special insight. Here’s what it says from three different Bible versions:
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. (Jude 22-23 NKJV)
And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (Jude 22-23 NLT)
Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven. (Jude 22-23 MSG)
Twice during Jesus’ ministry on this earth, once at the beginning and once at the end, He cleared the Temple physically of the money changers:
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:13-17 NKJV)
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:12, 13 NKJV)
But in between the two instances above, we find Jesus dealing with the woman caught in the very act of adultery (notice that her male counterpart in sin should of also been brought forward according to Leviticus 20:10):
Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:2-11 NKJV)
Observe how Jesus dealt totally different with the woman caught in adultery than He did with the money changers.
Have you noticed that the Bible (the Letter of the Word) is only a guidebook for life. It is not a detailed and illustrated how-to-book for every situation in life. That is why the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of the Word) was given to us. As I deal with hard situations in my life, all I can do is pray and seek for discernment so that I say and do the things the Holy Spirit wants me to say and do, no matter what the consequences are or what people’s opinions are. An important thing to remember also is that the Spirit of the Word will always compliment the Letter of the Word and never be in conflict with it.
There is another very important factor in the equation of getting it right, and that is timing. Read the following Scripture and see how Paul waited many days before he acted:
Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. (Acts 16:16-18 NKJV)
May our prayer always be, “Lord help us to always get it right with the people you put in our path in life!”