Isn’t it sad how so many of those who profess to be Believers in Messiah and to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob treat each other like non-Believers do?
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We all see it, all the time: if someone disagrees with someone else, they first try to change the person’s mind, then they devolve into accusations, insults, and eventually berate the person, judging them as faithless or sinful or state that they aren’t really saved.
If you ask me, that is one of the greatest sins we commit against God- that’s right, against G-O-D! When we sin, any sin, it is not only against each other but, as David knew and said in Psalm 51, every single sin is first and foremost a sin against God!
And so often, actually almost all the time, the person sinning against another is doing so over a topic that isn’t even a salvation issue.
When I use the term “salvation issue”, I mean a topic that is a foundation stone of our forgiveness and salvation through Messiah Yeshua. For example, accepting that Yeshua (Jesus) IS the Messiah God promised to send is a salvation issue, but how to pronounce his name is not. Another example: faith that God does exist and that he is the one and only true God is a salvation issue, but whether or not we should celebrate traditional holidays that honor him or just the ones he told us to do (in Leviticus 23) is not a “make or break” salvation decision.
Praying to God using a name for him that you have always known to mean the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not wrong. But, when you tell someone else when praying to the “Lord” is calling on the pagan god Ba’al, that IS wrong! God knows who we mean- he sees and knows the heart! And to tell someone praying to God that they are really calling on a pagan god is, well, I believe it is a sin against God. Why? Because you are telling someone else what God thinks. And, if you think you are right in doing that, I suggest you read the Book of Job; at the end of the book you will find out what God says about people who speak for him.
Spoiler Alert: God wasn’t very happy about it!
We need to treat everyone, Believer or not, in the way God says we should. That is one of the two main reasons he gave us his commandments: one is to know how he wants us to worship him, and the other is to know how he wants us to treat each other. Yeshua said the whole of the Torah is based on two commandments: to love God and to love each other, so when we have discussions, and yes – even heated discussions- we must NOT be like the pagans are and accuse each other of stupidity, lack of faith, or ignorance.
Even if someone is ignorant, it is not for us to tell them that.
For myself, if this helps at all, I try to always listen to what the other person says and verify their source. I learned as a Salesman (and I was successful at it because of this) that people will always tell you how to close them if you ask the right questions and listen to what they are saying. The same goes for discussions about God, the Messiah, or interpreting the Bible. When there are different opinions, you should listen and analyze what the other is saying, then approach each part of their argument, agreeing where there may be agreement, and when disagreeing, not telling them that they are wrong, but simply saying why you believe differently.
I can guarantee that you will rarely (if ever) win an argument by telling the other person they are wrong. The way to change someone’s mind is to first make them doubt what they believe, and that is done not by attacking them but by asking them why they believe what they do. Then, for each reason they give you, if it is based on incorrect information or is just plain wrong, don’t tell them that. Instead, tell them why you believe what you do, and make an excellent argument with proof of why you believe this way.
Then leave it up to them.
After having explained to them what you “know” to be right, it is better for all if you leave them believing something that is wrong and allow God to work on their heart. God gave everyone the right to make up their own mind, we call it Free Will, and when we try to take away that right we are acting against what God has done.
As the expression goes, don’t burn your bridges behind you, and when we have many different people in discussion groups discussing and debating about many different spiritual and theological issues, you don’t want to burn bridges for anyone else, either. I have seen too many people leave a group or ignore any further discussion about a topic because of the way someone has treated them.
We can’t afford to treat each other in a way that weakens the bond of brethren within the body of Messiah. It is enough to have the outside world attack and persecute us- do we really need to add to that by destroying each other? Didn’t Yeshua tell us that a house divided against itself cannot stand?
So, please, going forward be aware of how you deal with others in these inevitable debates about the Bible, God, and religious rites. We will always have people who disagree, but we can’t let that cause strife and division within the body of Believers.
Let me finish with this: when one person in a discussion begins to attack the other person on a personal basis, then all is lost. It is no longer a discussion, it is now a battle of pride. DO NOT return fire; shake the dust off your sandals and move on.
If you do this, you will be avoiding sin and that is always pleasing to God.
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!