I’ve watched with fascination the recent social media firestorm around Victoria Osteen’s video that went viral. Some people blasted her mercilessly while others took the full-on merciful approach of “don’t judge, only love.” Without getting into the details of it — too much has already been said on that account — two things keep coming to mind that occur to me every time something like this happens:
1) Dangerous false teaching by its nature puts people at risk. Information that will ultimately take people further from God, creating all kinds of spiritual confusion, should be addressed. We wouldn’t let an adult tell our child that a bottle of bleach is liquid, just like orange juice is liquid, so it’s safe to drink. Not only would we disagree but we would stop the action from taking place so that no one gets hurt.
Potential harm is a Biblical motivation for addressing false teaching.
Jesus addressed false teaching. Paul did it. We are told to do it for others’ sake and for the exaltation of our God.
If we are participating in a small group discussion and someone asks whether Jesus’ comment about “pearls before swine” refers to pot-bellied pigs or Chester Whites, the answer doesn’t make any difference to our spiritual condition. We can let the discussion go with no obligation to resolve it. But, if someone asks if Jesus is the only way to God, the answer to that can make a huge difference. We have to make sure that by the end of the discussion, it has been clearly stated that Jesus IS the only way to God. We can’t leave that one ambiguous.
The approach is everything, though. Being mean or mocking is never honoring to God but lovingly pointing out error, or at least opening up a dialogue, is.
2) Our spiritual gifting causes us to respond to things differently. Paul tells us we are equally needed in the body, so we are to be equally encouraged and supported in exercising our spiritual gifts.
When there are firestorms like the one that just took place, the prophets/teachers/discerners point out the error while the merciful ones protect the one being corrected.
You precious, merciful people, whom we desperately need in this harsh world … please let us do our job. Don’t make us feel guilty for pointing out error when that’s what we are wired and called to do. You don’t have to do it, but we do. Your calling is to comfort and have compassion. Our calling is to expose, challenge and apply Truth.
John the Baptist and Elijah probably didn’t have a lot of friends because telling the truth isn’t the thing that gets you invited to parties. So imagine the breath of fresh air it is when someone actually affirms our words rather than shakes their finger at us while telling us to give grace.
We need all the gifts functioning in the Body.
Don’t we want those with the gift of giving to be generous?
Don’t we need those with the gift of faith to cast our corporate visions?
Don’t we want those with the gift of administration to take care of daily tasks?
So please let us prophets and teachers speak the Truth without trying to shame us into silence.
We love grace and mercy just as much as you do. We have benefited from it and embrace it as God’s greatest action toward us. And believe me, we pray earnestly for the ability to speak and act lovingly! We know it doesn’t come as easily to us as it does to you.
Let’s all give each other the grace to exercise our spiritual gifts. In surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leading, I’ll do what I do best and you do what you do best.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good … God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 18