How do people perceive you in a crisis? Are you the one who stays calm? The one whose language never slips? The one who refuses to fall into a pit of despair? What happens when you are caught in a mistake? Do you lie about what happened? Do you blame others, or do you calmly assume responsibility, offer an apology, and work hard to rectify the mistake? When you see a person in need, do you step in and offer help? Do you treat others well, regardless how they treat you? Do you give to all, not just your friends? How do you handle disagreements or insults? A Christian never bases his behavior on how others have treated him, but upon what is right and what is wrong. “But he made me mad,” means someone else is controlling you, and Christians always practice self-control.
If you have ever claimed to be a Christian, these things can very well effect whether anyone will ever listen to you again, or even whether anyone else from the church will ever reach those people. Too many times I have talked to people only to have them tell me about “someone from your church who…” Our behavior may have successfully aided the Devil in capturing one more soul.
Sometimes when we think we are doing the Lord’s work, we are really aiding the enemy. When you talk to people about the church and the gospel, how do you go about it? It may be extremely uncomfortable, but also eminently practical, to ask others how you are perceived when you teach, when you preach, or just in casual conversation. Do you notice how many times you use the word “I?” Do you know whether you tend to be loud or sound bossy? Does your manner reek of arrogance or sarcasm? Do you go on far too long, drowning important soul-saving concepts in a sea of words? When you talk to folks who aren’t Christians (sometimes even when they are), you can’t count on them to be spiritual enough to endure the off-putting habits you might have. Am I too proud to learn to do better? If so, I have just aided and abetted the Enemy of the cross of Christ by refusing to “become all things to all men.”
Most people who try to edify others and save the lost are good-hearted individuals who have no idea they come across in these ways. They would never knowingly aid and abet the enemy of our Savior. But that enemy is smart—he will use our weaknesses to his own advantage. Nothing is said or done in a vacuum. If you aren’t helping the cause of the Lord, you are hurting it, and it can happen even when you think you are doing His will, just by failing to notice what is going on or refusing to listen to those who might have some pretty good advice about how to better go about it. Don’t commit treason against the Lord.
To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the gospel's sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof. 1 Cor 9:22-23