I don't know about you, but there are times when I could say something to someone but I just don’t want to say things clearly and directly as I could. There are times when I understand the truth about a situation but I don’t want to speak that truth in a way that would come across as harsh or offensive. I have a tendency to want to soften things rather than to say something that might cause hard feelings.
Sometimes we could call this "tact" or "being prudent." In our day this kind of approach may also be labeled being "politically correct." There are times when this is clearly the right approach, where exercising some restraint in the short-term helps hold a relationship together over the long-term. But there are times when, as Christians, we might be making a mistake by shading the truth, thinking of the short-term and forgetting that our words and actions can have long-term, even eternal, consequences.
This idea came to my attention in an unexpected way as I was reading Luke 13 while waiting with my wife at the hospital last Sunday evening. Jesus has been talking with some Pharisees, leaders among the Jews, and he expresses sadness and disappointment over their spiritual condition and their historic rejection of the prophets God has sent to his people. In the last part of verse 34 he says some very familiar words:
"How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!"
And then in verse 35 he says:
"Behold, your house is forsaken"
That phrase, "Behold, your house is forsaken" nearly stopped me in my tracks. To be forsaken means to move away or depart from; to leave and be separated from. Jesus is telling the religious leaders that because they, and the Jewish people generally, have repeatedly ignored God that they are going to find themselves abandoned by God. They are supposed to be God's people, and yet because they ignore him God will separate himself from them. They will be forsaken by God.
The Good News of Jesus, that God saves sinners through the death-and-resurrection of Jesus, is not just another one of many things a person may choose, or not choose, during their life. When faced with a choice about the Good News of Jesus, we have the only choice in our lives that truly has eternal consequences. One choice is that we can believe in him and have eternal life with him. Any other answer is the same thing as saying "no" to him, and the consequence of that is being forsaken by him.
Every believer in Jesus knows people, many people, who don’t have faith. Sometimes our desire to share the Good News is muted by our desire to keep peace or not offend. But the danger our unbelieving friends face is very real. Let us be people know God's love so deeply that we are willing to speak the full truth of a merciful Savior to a world that desperately needs to hear and believe the Good News of Jesus.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.