Christianity is: We Testify; God Convicts (Changes)

We are not the jury… yet. But God, the Supreme Judge, is already instructing us.

Galatians 6:1 CEV
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in a sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself.

I wrote about my interpretation of this verse in An “Under Wonder”, in which I describe that “someone” could be trapped in sin, not found out, and that “being tempted” could be by the same sin or by another sin, such as self-righteousness or unloving judgment – neither of which is gentle.

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 ERV
Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world…
You know that in the future we will judge angels…

This verse came up in a recent conversation with a brother, and I’ll talk more about it in a moment. I mention it here to say that I hadn’t really noticed it before, but it is the focus of this post. That is, I’m considering how – or whether – we are meant to judge now vs gently “leading” – by testimony and example – those who know they need help in overcoming sin.

But first, I indicated that God is already instructing us. He communicates with us in subtle, seemingly ‘coincidental’ ways. (Actually, I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe only in God’s perfect timing.) And such a miraculous series of moments just happened in God’s Story in my life. Of course, I’d like to share them with you – it’s what I do.

  1. I reached Revelation in my reading the Bible in the Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
  2. Recently, I blogged An “Under Wonder” (as mentioned above)
  3. I had a conversation with a brother which spoke specifically into my life with reference to points 1 & 2
  4. This morning’s reading was Revelation 2, the letter to the church in Ephesus
  5. I speak as someone in Recovery from [much]

So, to put this all together:

Revelation 1:3
Great blessings belong to the person who reads the words of this message from God and to those who hear this message and do what is written in it. There is not much time left.

My purpose in Sharing God’s Story in my life is to demonstrate, by my words and actions – my testimony, how God has convicted (changed) me. I focus on me. That is to say, I testify about me. I do not want to say “you should do such and such”. (I hope this is how this blog comes across.) I don’t know your story, and I certainly am not in any position to dictate to you.

But I do believe you know all about yourself. Your answers are in you, maybe buried deep, just waiting for God to reveal them to you. Only He can. Only God convicts or changes a heart and a mind, not my words or actions. You might be influenced or given food for thought by “my story”, but anything that happens to you is not – can not be – directly caused by me. God makes the change in you.

He can work on you in the same way He has worked on me: through the time I have spent listening to Him, and getting to know Him, by prayer and by reading His Word. If I were to suggest anything for you to do, it would be to read your Bible. (Spiritual) life is found in an individual relationship with one’s Creator.

In this, we find a general purpose:

Revelation 1 ERV
:5 … Jesus is the one who loves us and has made us free from our sins with His blood sacrifice.
:6 He made us His kingdom and priests who serve God His Father.
To Jesus be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen
:9 … we are together in Jesus, and we share these things: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance

We all have sinned and continue to fall. We are saved by accepting Jesus as who He says He is, and why: Son of God, Son of Man, the Messiah come to redeem us, to restore our relationship to God, The Creator. Once saved, we are meant to lead gently, by words and actions. Talking and walking our talk. We are not meant to “drive” anyone forward. We are simply to be the light by which others can see their way through. In this life, we all will have trials, and must endure, as in passing a test.

But I digress. I want to speak on Galatians 6:1 – in particular how the Revelation 2 letter to Ephesus relates. Above, in this post, I suggest that people are “trapped” in their sin – unable to extricate themselves. Believers – those whom God has extricated – come alongside to shed light on – by testimony and example, not by judgement or “advice” – the way out. The believer must beware of being tempted himself, either by the same sin or by ceasing to be gentle in the relationship. This is what has happened in Ephesus.

The church in Ephesus is doing much in the right way:

Revelation 2 ERV
:2 I know what you do, how hard you work and never give up.
I know you don’t accept evil people. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not. You found that they are liars.
:3 You never stop trying. You have endured troubles for my name and have not given up.

But it has lost the key trait of Christ’s message:

:4 But his I have against you:
You have left the love you had in the beginning.

Consider this translation of the next verse:

AMP
:5 So remember the heights from which you have fallen, and repent [change you inner self – you old way of thinking, your sinful behavior – seek God’s will] and do the works you did at first [when you first knew me].

The Ephesus church had forgotten what it is like to be trapped in sin; how helpless – powerless – they themselves used to be. I know that I was deeply lost and unable to see when Christ found me in 2008. I don’t want to forget what that was like because it is key to remaining gentle and caring about others. I need and want to speak and act in and with love, remembering what it is like to be lost and willingly or unknowingly sinful.

This is compassion. My testimony in gentle words and actions as an example, and God’s conviction – God’s changing a heart.

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