Bringing hell into the conversation

Bringing  hell into the conversation for your own personal purposes is wrong.

The situation I’m imagining is when someone’s pride is hurt, and so in anger he wants to strike back with something cutting; “I don’t like you” “You’re not a nice person” “You’re selfish” or even, “You’re  going to hell”.

But I think that some people will only credit a warning of judgment to a social desire to hurt. For them, if somebody warns of hell, that person is doing it out of anger and spite. But not everything has to be part of a social coinage or currency. Jesus’ view was on eternity, not to strike back for some wounded pride in a social game, and he said to the Pharisees”[I]f ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

What is probably more common than warning people of damnation in anger, is comforting and assuring people of salvation and heaven for them (and their family) in a desire to please, which is kind of the same thing as the angry hell warning in that it’s commandeering something solemn and eternal for your momentary purpose in the relationship. I think such assurances, such widenings of the narrow way, are more common than the angry warning because it’s more enjoyable to tell people pleasing things. But it’s certainly not helpful or loving to tell someone they are healthy when they’re sick!

This brings up a conundrum; do sometimes those who have angry motivations say the more helpful thing (though it doesn’t come out of love) than those whom we would think of as friendly and loving?

(I can feel it in myself right now; there’s someone whom at present I am more displeased with [dare I say angry] than I was in the past, and I feel much more open [even eager] to tell her in stern terms that she is WRONG about something. And I really have always thought she is wrong about it, and of course believing the truth is better than not, so what was my loving regard for that person in the past if I wouldn’t in love risk that person’s displeasure to help her? But this eager attitude doesn’t seem loving either.)

I suppose the angry warning or correction can help insofar as the the words themselves are true, but the anger itself doesn’t seem  be helpful to the warning.

Paul wrote in II Timothy chapter 2, “[T]he servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

I like that line “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth”.  The loving instructor always has his eye on that. He never wants to block the doorway of repentance, and he knows that it’s God’s gift. Making it about you, making it a great battle of egos in which you are trying to overmaster the other person,  is certainly not the best way to help someone to repentance, especially if you’re angrily and spitefully trying to bring the other person down! If you tell someone that he’s going to hell out of personal anger, no wonder if he responds trying to vindicate himself before you, trying to appease you, forgetting God and the real judgment day. This is the exact opposite of what we desire – that we would fade away and Jesus would be great in their eyes.

I guess what I’m getting at is that great difficulty – how to speak the truth in love. The words of the Bible are a perfect example of the truth spoken in love. When Paul says pleasing men and serving Christ (Gal. 1:10) are mutually exclusive, and when he says “[A]s we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (I Thess. 2:4), notice that both times he doesn’t leave it at  “Don’t please men!” but goes on to “Serve Christ” “Please God”. Christ won’t lead you astray; we will be loving inasmuch as we follow Christ. Though  vile, profane imprecations, for example, might fit the bill of not pleasing men, they are excluded by the command to please God.

God’s word is perfect; it doesn’t seek to please men (though some rejoice at it), it doesn’t petulantly seek to poke people in the eye (though it does offend people). Inasmuch as God leads you, you won’t go wrong. And remember that you are seeking to please God “which trieth our hearts“. If you are pridefully condemning, He knows your proud heart. If you’re unlovingly speaking smooth, friendly words, He knows your heart. Don’t live to please easily deceived humans; their praise is vanity, and sometimes they willfully misconstrue your motives. So lastly, if you bring hell into the conversation humbly and lovingly, and people wrongfully judge that love as hate, take comfort that you are a servant of “God which trieth our hearts.”
~ Watchful

 

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