“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
It has been said…
Solomon may have been the first to coin this phrase. It was certainly on his mind when he wrote these famous words in the Book of Ecclesiastes. In his wisdom, he drew our attention to the fact of the importance of doing the right thing at the right time – and of NOT doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
In short, know your surroundings, use wisdom in what you do and say (or in what you don’t) and above all else… make sure the time is right.
Reflecting back on the commencement speaker I talked about yesterday, she failed to act in wisdom – she let her passion for her agenda lead her to where she should not have gone. Her words were inappropriate for the setting (and contentious to most of her audience). She chose to make her “issue” the spotlight instead of the graduates she was supposed to inspire. Her words were not necessarily wrong – they just came at the wrong time in the wrong place.
That got me to thinking… what if the headline speaker was a pro-life advocate rather than an anti-gun proponent. The pro-life speaker would have been just as wrong to unleash a diatribe against the tragedy of abortion.
The agenda doesn’t really matter… if the time is wrong and the place is wrong – even what we adamantly believe to be right… is wrong!
That leads me to this… as Christians, we need to be especially diligent with when and how we share the good news of Jesus. If we are not very careful, we can spend all our time talking AT people, instead of speaking WITH people. The difference is a matter of relationship… and building to a moment of proper timing.
Just recently, I watched a video of a crowded marketplace where a group of zealous “Christians” were confronting and berating people because of their sin – and loudly reminding them of the judgment that was coming, unless they repented.
I cringed. My heart fell. These “Christians” felt like they were doing the Lord’s work by proclaiming “the gospel” – but all they were really doing was alienating people further from the God Who loves them.
There was nothing IN their message (or in how they presented it) that compelled them towards God. All they seemed to accomplish was to repel people from God.
This observation is all the more important when we realize that their message was essentially true. We are all sinners, already condemned to judgment for our sins – and judgment is a sure thing, unless we turn our hearts to God.
But their hearts behind that message did not reflect the Heart of the One Who gave the message. And any message (as true as it is) has such limited power to change minds and hearts… IF the message is not centered in a true love and concern for the ones hearing it.
When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He was often proclaiming the truth of people’s need for repentance from their sins. But His message was always centered in the compassion of God. His message always flowed out of the times when He loved on people… first!
Jesus made it a point to connect with people before He confronted their deepest need. He earned the right to speak into their lives, before He spoke the truth to them.
It is the one thing we often miss when it comes to talking to people about the “right” thing that we are so passionate about.
Any message, no matter how right, almost always needs the bond of relationship before it can be truly heard.