Speak Slowly and Softly
Two days ago while some friends and I briefly evangelized in a trailer park, the maintenance man approached us. He told us we were on private property (though there was no sign at the entrance indicating that) and needed permission from the manager to talk to the residents there. This man was friendly and thought the manager might give her approval if we asked.
My friend Sue and I eventually approached the manager in her office. When “Mary” learned what we were doing, her demeanor suddenly changed. With an angry tone in her voice, Mary informed us 75% of her tenants were Buddhists and wanted to “respect their religion.” My immediate response was that Buddhists need to hear about Jesus also. While that is certainly true, my comment didn’t help the situation. The manager then revealed other Christians have witnessed on the property and supposedly told the Buddhists they were heathens and condemned to hell. Sue suggested I slip out the door while she tried reasoning with this manager but wasn’t successful with that. So we went evangelizing in other parts of town.
Later that evening at a church service I attended, the pastor taught on how we can diffuse arguments with people and talked about an incident involving his own ministry. Years ago his church purchased a nightclub with the intent of turning it into an outreach center. Some of the local residents were upset thinking it would cause problems in their neighborhood. During a town hall meeting, the pastor began his speech by apologizing for not checking with the local residents first. Soon the pastor and his church had favor with the community. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Of course, some people will get mad no matter what you do. However, the amount of persecution we receive for doing the Lord’s work can be minimized if we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and avoid the temptation to quickly defend ourselves. There’s a reason why God gave us two ears and only one mouth.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” - James 1:19