2001-05-10 - How To Answer
I recall hearing a story recounted by a radio Bible study teacher I listened to for a number of years. I believe he has gone home to be with Jesus a few years back. But when he was first on the air, he was faced with the new challenge of keeping up with listener mail. One such letter came across his desk. It was a scathing rebuke. The writer had misunderstood something said, or something similar. Paragraph upon paragraph of correction in a very angry manner. As he finished reading the note, a mentor of his walked in and sat down.
The young man fresh out of seminary lamented to his old professor, "How do I answer this letter? He will never hear what I have to say?" The elder gentleman picked up the letter and scanned a paragraph from each page. "Did you say what he accuses you of?", he asked. The younger man replied that, of course he had not. "Did you read the whole thing carefully?", the second question came. "Yes, every misguided word of it.", the reply came. "Is there any truth to any of his points at all?", the third query arrived. "You know me better than that, don't you Professor?", the plaintiff reply came back. The professor thumbed through the pages one more time. He looked up at the man who was now, once again, his pupil and dumped the letter into the wastebasket.
The younger man almost jumped out of his chair, "But, you can't do that! I have to answer the letter." The professor smiled and reminded his young friend that he had already pointed out that there was no truth to the accusations, and no reply was going to change the author's mind. It was time to move on with his day.
This reminded me of Jesus before both Pilate and Herod. He never answered to anything but the truth that was put to Him. Herod and his followers, the Roman soldiers all mocked Jesus horribly. Would any reply touch those hardened hearts? If not, no rely was necessary. The Centurion at the cross was moved by what he saw, not what he was told.
Luke 23:1-4 Then the whole body of them arose and brought Him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." 3 And Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And He answered him and said, "It is as you say." 4 And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, "I find no guilt in this man." (NAS)
The world is learning to hate Christians and the Christ that we represent a little more every day. Jesus warned us that men would curse us and revile is for His names sake. He also told us to be ready to make an account for the joy that we have in our lives. We will know when it is time to make that defense. But to the one who curses christians because for some unfounded reason, trying to talk them out of their position in the heat of the moment will only entrench them more deeply. Pray that God would open their eyes and their hearts.
Only God can change the human heart. Only the Holy Spirit will convict an angry, misdirected soul. I don't make a very good Holy Spirit, so I will let Him do the work. If someone asks if something is true, then I can answer that. The questioner has given me the floor. The Holy Spirit will lead you to speak and give you the words when it is time. Jesus promised us that.
Luke 12:11-12 "And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (NAS)
Jesus, help us to see this example of Your answering only to truth. You know the hearts of men, you made every one of them. Help us to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And to wait for the words that He would provide for us in that time when we are called to speak. Amen.
Grace & Peace,