We cannot make people believe the Word of God

It is terribly difficult to refrain from judging others when they fall upon hard times, especially when you are enjoying a stretch of good times. The tendency is to point our self-righteous finger at the person who is down while saying “look at me” . It is so easy to grow impatient with those who fall behind and start preaching at them instead of encouraging them to do better. Life as a Christian is not equivalent to some kind of boot camp but rather a spiritual family seeking to edify, encourage and comfort one another.

Many years ago I was called aside by a leader in the ministry who I trusted and told that if I did not stop preaching and teaching AT people, I would never be effective in my ministry. Very few people enjoy getting yelled at, and fewer still respond positively to being made to feel like a lowly worm because of everything they do wrong. As teachers, preachers, ministers etc, we must always strive to lift up people and never rub their noses in their failures or shortcomings.

I remember vividly a time in the 1970's when I felt justified in going off on an audience whom I felt were deliberately being apathetic toward the Word of God being spoken. I remember railing upon these believers for quite some time. When I was done, I patted myself on the back for what I deemed to be a good job of making these people see the error in their ways. Perhaps they did, but instead of becoming more receptive to what I was saying, they tuned me out and when I was done they immediately left and never came back.

I learned that day that rarely is it God's will to make His people feel inferior, worthless or incapable of getting things right. Rarely is it God's will to allow my feelings to overflow in what I am teaching. In other words, it may have felt good to let loose that day but since I drove the people away, it was not what God wanted. Anytime we have the opportunity to speak God's Word, we must exercise great patience and longsuffering with whomever we are speaking to. When we lose patience, we almost always lose the person.

There is not a one of us who has not gotten our feelings hurt because of the apathy and lack of response of people we speak the Word of God to. Somehow we must rise above the natural tendency to yell, scream and shake the person into listening. Somehow we must rise up and believe that our job is to speak but it is God's job to give the increase. We cannot make someone listen and believe what we are saying. All we can do is keep speaking the Word of truth in love and trusting God to work in their hearts to believe His Word and receive the glorious benefits of it.