On Being Well Liked

Often Christians find they are not very well liked by people who are in sin, denominationalists and sectarians, and even their own brothers in Christ. There may be some legitimate reasons why this happens from time to time. No matter how right a person may be, their demeanor and language may be so offensive that it “turns people off” -- not from truth, but from the person teaching the truth. Paul wrote a young preacher, “And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Tim. 2:24).

Sometimes it is possible to gently teach those who are in error, but sometimes it is not. Jude wrote, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 1:27). There is no gentle way to snatch some people out of the fires of error, particularly if you “hate even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

At times Jesus was so meek and gentle that children came to his side (Mark 10:16). One can easily imagine the tender words our Lord spoke with an innocent child cradled in his loving arms. Yet at times Jesus showed us what it means to get the attention of those who pervert truth. Seven times in Matthew chapter 23, Jesus used the term “Woe,” and followed it with scathing rebukes. He made a difference in the little children and the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus was not always well liked. He was offensive at times. When he rebuked the Pharisees for the way they allowed their traditions to make void the law of God, the disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” (Matt. 15:12). The dislike for Jesus by these religious leaders elevated to the intensity that they plotted to take his life (John 5:18). That’s is about as much dislike as anyone should have -- but it didn’t keep Jesus from doing what was right.

Jesus warned his disciples that they would be “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22). Later he added, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In the sermon on the Mount he said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

One of the greatest of the apostles was Paul. He wasn’t very well liked either. Why? He told people the truth, sometimes in a manner that was direct and to the point. I am confident Elymas didn’t care much for Paul, after he heard the great man say, “O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord” (Acts 13:10). But like it or not, Paul knew what needed to be said and knew how to say it. - ~DRS ~

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