I was sure that pastor was talking directly to me.
I nearly turned and apologized to the rest of the congregation for their having to sit through a sermon that was directed at only me. But of course, I was wrong; the message was intended for everyone.
It’s just the Holy Spirit that guides the arrow.
“Stop trying to change people,” the pastor suddenly challenged, right in the middle of a sermon on transformation. “It’s God’s job to change people. Your job is to share the Gospel, and participate in discipleship.”
I was immediately convicted about every discouraging word I had uttered, in Jesus’ Name, over the years. How many times had I nicked (or even mortally wounded) a hurting soul in need of the Good News of God’s forgiveness, all for the want of being on “the right side” of an issue. How often have my poorly-chosen words confirmed every wrong belief some people harbor about Christ, and Christians?
Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s important for Christians to advocate passionately for what’s right in the marketplace of ideas. Granted, it’s a tricky endeavor to stand against sin, without insulting the sinner. But it’s a skill we must develop, if ever we are to be useful in ministry. And we have a clear example. Such is the kind of grace our Lord modeled time and again, with the lady at the well…Zaccheus…the adulterous woman, and so many others.
But our Lord’s approach to reaching sinners is exactly the opposite of mine. Jesus’ gentle, personal interaction with Mary and Martha, for example, was designed for their immediate benefit; we learn from their lesson because it was recorded in God’s Word. Conversely, my ramblings are written for many to see, in the hope that even one person might be blessed. Little wonder my backward approach often achieves the opposite results!
So I come before you in all humility. I have no wisdom, but that which He has chosen to share with all believers, through His Spirit and His Word. I have no prophetic insight that would compel you to listen. I have only a platform, and only for as long as He would see fit. And by His grace, might I always recognize the difference.
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About Mark Daniels
Mark Daniels is a broadcasting veteran of more than 30 years, and currently serves as the Programming and Marketing Manager of WFIL/WNTP in Philadelphia. His daily talk show and On the Mark commentaries have consistently won top honors from the PA Association of Broadcasters, as well as past awards from the Philadelphia Press Association, Excellence in Media, and others. Daniels serves as host of the nationally-syndicated Christian ministry program, The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Montgomery Boice. He is a church elder and Bible conference president. Mark Daniels can be heard weekdays at 4pm ET on www.wfil.com, and The Mark Daniels Show can be seen weekly on WBPH-TV 60 (WBPH.org).
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