“When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:54-56)
I would like to think that I know my own heart when I give an opinion about someone or to someone. But the truth is I can’t claim total omniscience. It is quite possible that I don’t know what kind of spirit, attitude, heart I am speaking out of. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)
And the more spiritual or biblical or wise what I have to say is, the more authority or permission I feel it carries. But the point of having something to say is for it to be heard. Being heard is earned over time, not demanded the moment I stroll into a room or click “post” on facebook. What I have to say may be valid, but my arrogance will make it harder for people to hear it.
We Christians can tend to belittle non-believers, meaning, we can tend to deify ourselves. We believe that being a Christian makes us better than them, so as a result we feel our opinion is weightier, purer, worthier. But we are not.
Of course we do believe we have something to say. But if I speak the things pertaining to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet live in a way that is contrary to them, people won’t care enough to listen. However, if I live in a way that is true to the Gospel, yet can’t say much about it, people will care enough to ask and/or listen.
In the first three centuries of Christianity, a refrain often heard was, “We do not speak great things, but we live them.” For a variety of reasons Christians didn’t speak much of the great things they believed, but they lived the great things they believed. They lived out the Gospel, the life of Jesus Christ, by the transformative power of the Holy Spirit living in them.
What we are is no better than what anyone else is. A Christian who feels that God loves them more than an unbeliever has yet to to truly encounter the grace of God. We are saved by grace. But this “amazing grace of God could be falsified at a stroke if the people (of God) began to think of themselves as a choice people instead of a chosen people.” (Edmund Clowney).
God gives grace, not to the proud, but to the humble. If grace is what everyone needs and no one deserves, then in the heart of one who has been saved by it there will beat a humility and a joy. And far from looking down on others, they will instead look up to serve others, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or where they’re from.