by Andrew Strom
When I was a young Christian I was a total zealot. There is nothing wrong with that, but sadly I was often a zealot without wisdom – and also WITHOUT LOVE. I cared for “truth” more than I cared for people, and I did not even notice that I was often using Truth as a sword to crush people with, rather than set them free.
A lot of young zealous Christians are like that – but I was particularly bad because I had a ‘prophetic’-type personality – very intense, very black and white. I would walk into a room full of Christians and start an argument at the drop of a hat. I was not afraid to “blast” anyone. Truth was king – the most important thing – and that was all I cared about. This was not just an “occasional” problem with me – this was the way I lived and breathed. Total, all-out zealotry.
I do not have this approach to life any more – though I still care deeply about truth. (-For that is the way God made me). Sometimes I will still debate things with people – though very rarely.
Over the years God changed me utterly. In fact, to change my hardened heart He had to break me and break me and break me some more. And each time He did so, a little bit of LOVE got in. I’m sure He is still doing so today.
I started to realize that from God’s point of view, the most precious thing in all the earth is PEOPLE. We can see this in the most famous verse in the Bible- “For God SO LOVED the world….” There it is – He so LOVES PEOPLE. He sent His son to die for PEOPLE. That is what it is all about.
There is an old Maori saying from New Zealand, which I have to love- “The most valuable thing in all the world is PEOPLE, it is PEOPLE, it is PEOPLE.”
And yet to me in those early years, it was not “people” that I deeply cared about at all. The only thing I deeply valued was the ‘Truth’ that I was trying to put across that day. And so I attacked and spiritually “hacked” at people all day long. I was a walking nightmare.
Do you realize the sheer amount of ‘breaking’ that has to go on in someone like that – to get them to LOVE? -Years and years of awful crushing and brokenness. -Because I was SO BAD – seriously – I was a danger to the church and to myself.
If you love your ‘Truths’ more than you love people, then you are an out-and-out Pharisee. Nothing less. And you will create condemnation and death in people, rather than ‘conviction’ and LIFE.
But if you can get BROKEN enough to truly LOVE PEOPLE – and value them more than anything in this earth – and then speak Truth to them out of that place of love – then you will become greatly effective. It is all about becoming BROKEN and learning to LOVE others from the heart. If you ask Him to, God will do “whatever it takes” to get you to that place.
This is not to say that you will never speak direct or piercing words. You will – but the whole motivation will be different. In fact, EVERYTHING will be different. You may be very confronting, and speak very direct truths – but it will be in the right spirit. And this God can greatly anoint.
I got a disturbing email recently from a relative of someone on our List who says that this person uses some of the things we send out as “ammunition” to attack people or argue or divide from them, etc. Listen, friends, you can do anything with Truth. You can use it to beat people up or set them free. You can use it to become the most “negative” person on the planet, or you can allow it to break your heart and make you a closer follower of Jesus. You can use it in love, or you can use it in zealous self-righteousness to hammer and condemn people. It is up to you – and the true state of your heart.
All I can pray is that those reading this will stop and consider for a moment. Don’t be like me, and take years to discover these most basic things.
Let me ask you a simple question- Do you truly LOVE PEOPLE more than the ‘Truths’ you are trying to make them listen to? Do you value them as God does – and realize that He sees them as the most precious thing in all the earth? (-Especially His children).
How deeply can we come to realize this truth – that GOD LOVES PEOPLE. Yes – repeat it – “GOD LOVES PEOPLE”. -And so must we, if we are to represent Him on this planet.
Please PRAY about these things, my friends?
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Posted in Articles by Andrew on April 28th, 2010 at 12:07 pm.