How Soft Can We Be?

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

  • 1 Corinthians 16:13

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

  • Matthew 5:11

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

  • Luke 6:26

” ‘Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong’ (1 Cor. 16:13). Those words were written by a man who practiced what he penned. Paul was his name. ‘Guts’ could have been his nickname. With singleminded determination, the rugged apostle hitched in his belt and pressed on.
“Through hard labors, imprisonments, beatings, and dangers … in spite of a brutal stoning, three frightening shipwrecks, a day and a night in the waters of the Mediterranean, threats on his life, extreme cold and intense heat, sleepless nights, dreadful days when hunger weakened him and thirst tormented him … regardless of continued misunderstanding from former companions, hateful treatment and vigorous opposition, ugly letters from the Corinthians, disappointment over the Galatians, mistreatment in Philippi, mocking in Athens, satanic oppression, and sustained isolation in a damp, dark dungeon in Rome before being beheaded, the persecutor-turned-apostle from Tarsus refused to run scared or lick his wounds. Even a cursory review of his life makes most Christians of today look like pantywaists.
“Where did Christians get the idea that we’d be appreciated, affirmed, and admired? The Savior himself taught that blessings are reserved for the persecuted, for those who are reviled, for those against whom folks say ‘all kinds of evil . . . falsely. (Matt. 5:10-11). He is the One who also warned, ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26].
“It sure is easy to forget those words and get soft, becoming too tender, too sensitive. Fragility is not a virtue extolled in Scripture. Saints with thin skin get distracted and, shortly thereafter, discouraged. There’s a long, demanding course to be run, most of which takes place in the trenches and without applause. I suggest we lower our expectations as we intensify our determination and head for the goal.
“Endurance is the secret, not popularity. This vile world is no friend of grace to help us on to God. He’s looking for troops who are in this thing for the long haul, caring and loving, of course, but not crowd-pleasing cheerleaders who rely on audience reaction to keep going.

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch (Devotion for Week 36, Friday)

Twenty-five years ago or so when Rev. Swindoll wrote this devotion, we had not yet come to the days of a “Safe Place” where people can go to be insolated and isolated from hearing anything that they disagree with.  Many colleges today have such places.  Yet, growth is hampered when we coddle to this extent.

But we have for nearly 2,000 years taken the idea of offering the other cheek to mean that we cannot stand our ground.  Jesus did not say that at all.  Jesus was saying that use love and a non-violent response while standing your ground.  Jesus was careful in His words, often silent, when He was being tormented, accused, and condemned.  But He was strong under the onslaught.

The problem is that 25 years ago, really longer ago, we got soft.  People read about God’s promises to grant our heart’s desires and they forget to read further – for those whose heart’s desire is the Lord.  For most Christians today, there heart’s desire is the things of this world.  We are conforming to this world in order to get those things, although Paul told us to be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

And while we are as our non-believing neighbors, dissatisfied, we lose out on those spiritual gifts that God has to offer.  The softness seems to just go with the territory.

And oddly, there are no “Safe Places” where Christians can go to not hear opposing views.  We are fair game to all who wish to offend us.

But while we should strive for endurance and not the accolades of the cheerleaders, we must be aware that there are angels in heaven cheering for us as we take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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