When someone opposes you, do your words kind of soften? Are you tempted to pull punches, or change the subject altogether? Goodness, it’s easy to do. The fear of man can’t be underestimated in the heart of Justin Talbert.
As I look at the biblical Jesus however, I am reminded that it’s okay — even right — to speak boldly.
Especially when you’re sharing your faith. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus gives us an example of speaking truth to opposition.
Jesus among the prideful
While in the company of the prideful and contemptuous Pharisees, Jesus told the parable of a humble tax collector.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”
“The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’”
“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’”
Okay, compare-and-contrast time. On the one hand, you have someone who believes they’re righteous because of their good deeds. But on the other hand, you have someone who knows they are unrighteous and longs for mercy from above.
Who do you think Jesus declares righteous? In verse 14 he explains: “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified, rather than the other.” Remember, Christ told this parable to the same people represented by the Pharisee character–oh, the boldness.
Jesus continues, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
What’s the lesson here? Let’s break it down into two principles.
#1 To share the gospel requires first understanding the gospel
If I asked you: “How do you get to heaven?” or “How do you get right with God?” How would you answer? Would it include similar “religious boxes” like the Pharisee used? Would church attendance, niceness, tithing, or prayer time count? True Christianity’s answer relies solely on Jesus.
You see, the Pharisees knew how to do church. They were the best at it. But, as the prophet Isaiah warned: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (64:6).
God isn’t impressed with our religious gymnastics. Our opinions of ourselves might be high, but our righteousness isn’t getting a standing ovation in heaven. In fact, apart from Christ, we are probably being booed.
But once we realize this, we start looking for someone who did impress God. Someone who died for sinners, and who came to save the undeserving. Enter Jesus. Our brokenness should always be at the forefront of our minds. We must stay in a constant, desperate need of his mercy. Just like the parable’s tax collector. It’s then that we’re justified and declared righteous. Not based on our own religious hula hooping. But solely upon the person and work of, you guessed it, Jesus. Boom, that’s the gospel.
#2 We have to stop exalting ourselves
Frankly, there are two types of people in the world. Those who walk into the room and say, “Here I am!” And those who walk in and say, “There you are.” I might always be the latter. Self-exalters are just the worst. And they don’t get very far with Jesus – there’s no need for him.
Where are you exalting yourself? Is it with Bible knowledge, physical beauty, Instagram followers, GPA, or athletics? We’re all doing something. But how do we stop self-exaltation? By showing respect to the gift giver. While you might indeed be awesome, it’s only because Christ made you that way. Stop taking credit.
How this helps our evangelism
#1 Share the gospel with yourself first
Wake up tomorrow morning and say: “God, I’m going to do some awesome things today, and I’m going to fail today. Please remind me of the mercy I need and that because of Jesus you freely give it.”
#2 Exalt, dignify, and honor those who are down on themselves
The melancholy neighbor in your life should be a constant target of your attention and affection. This leads to conversations.
#3 Befriend prideful people
Endure them, break down their pride slowly. Show them the beauty of your humility. Soon enough, you’ll win them over. And when they ask, “How do you do it?” be ready with a bold, Jesus-saturated response.
The Christian lifestyle is a peculiar mixture of boldness and tenderness. When dealing with the prideful people around us, follow Jesus’ lead as best you can.
Ask yourself: “When you’ve been prideful in the past, how have people helped you?”
Copyright © 2020 by Justin Talbert @https://getgroundedministries.com/2019/10/10/how-to-deal-with-prideful-people/ . Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.