September 2, 2004
Encouragement for Today

"Non-Christians:  Friends or Foes?"

Ginger Plowman
Author, Assistant Director with Proverbs 31 Ministries  

Key Verse

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5)


Devotion

I recently heard a young man preach a sermon on the importance of sharing the gospel.  His philosophy was that as long as Christians are obeying God by witnessing to the lost, they should not care if lost people ever accept Christ. He proposed that this attitude takes the pressure off the one sharing the gospel.  After all, if we only care about obeying God and not the results of sharing our faith, what do we have to lose?  While I agree that the decision of another person to accept or reject the call of Jesus is certainly not the responsibility of the one who shared the gospel, I disagree that the Christian's attitude should be one of not caring.  His charge for Christians not to concern themselves with Non-Christians who reject Jesus bothered me for two reasons; God commands Christians to care, and God has convicted me many times for not caring.

Christians are charged in Colossians 3:12 to be compassionate.  "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (emphasis mine).  We are to care, just as Christ cares, for the lost souls of men.

I used to view Non-Christians as outsiders.  I looked at them as mere projects that I needed to check off of my "I shared Christ with them to-do list."  I embraced sharing the gospel of Jesus as my job, and I faithfully did it out of obedience.  This "just do it" attitude is definitely in line with my personality. Spiritual gifts tests have confirmed that I am a profit/teacher.  The danger for a person with these gifts is that she/he is usually lacking in the compassion and mercy department.  For example, when a turtle makes the dangerous decision to cross a busy road, many people think, "That poor thing."  I, on the other hand, think "stupid turtle."  When someone comes to me with a problem, I'm not the huggy, let-me-cry-with-you type.  I'm more the factual "Here's what you need to do so dry your eyes and get on with it" type.

Unfortunately, I must admit, that while I had a heart for obeying God in sharing the gospel with the lost, I did not have a heart for the lost.  I can recall telling several people about Jesus and not grieving over their negative response to His plan of salvation. God convicted me that I was viewing Non-Christians as a type of enemy, an enemy that I needed to conquer in the spiritual war of evangelism.  I would faithfully put on my armor, swing the sword of truth at whoever came my way, and walk off the battlefield without giving a second thought to where the wounded fell.  I simply counted my efforts as medals toward spiritual heroism.

Jesus doesn't view Non-Christians as the enemy, but as victims of the enemy. According to Philippians 2:5, Christians are to have the same attitude as Christ. It took me a while to realize that not having a heart for the lost is just as disobedient as not sharing the gospel.  Christ longs to gather His lost sheep.  He searches for them and delights in looking after them (Ezekiel 34:11).  He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7).  It is impossible to have the attitude of Christ, while not caring for the lost.

In realizing these truths, I began to pray for a heart like His.  As a result, He enables me to see the lost through His eyes and care for them through His love.  I am becoming more and more aware of how precious they are to Jesus.  My heart hurts for those who don't know my sweet Jesus.  I long to see them embrace their maker, the giver of hope and joy.  God is still working on me, but I am thankful that He is making my heart a little more like His each day.  Oh, and I simply must tell you...I recently pulled my car over to help a turtle cross the road.  God is good.


My prayer for today

Lord, open my eyes to see your lost sheep as you do.  Fill me with your compassion and love that I might long for them to come to you.  Burn in my heart a passion to tell others about you.
  

Application steps:

Invest some time in befriending a Non-Christian.  Don't jump right into sharing the gospel.  Be interested in getting to know them and developing trust in the friendship.  Keep in mind that a good fisherman hides the hook!


Reflection points:

What is my attitude toward Non-Christians?

When was the last time I told someone about Jesus and really cared about the response?

What Non-Christian can I befriend?

Do I tell others about Jesus out of duty or desire?  What's the difference?


Power verses:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  "I myself will search for my sheep and look after them."  Ezekiel 34:11

This is what the Lord Almighty says, "Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another."  Zechariah 7:9
 
"Come, follow me," Jesus said "and I will make you fishers of men." Mark 1:17


Additional resources:

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanlistens.html

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa Terkeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanafter.html