There Are Other Ways

“Of course there aren’t—there is only one way—namely, God’s way. Every thinking, biblical Christian will agree.”

But wait a moment—often there are several ways that God’s one way may be carried out.

“What are you talking about? How can there be both one and several—both at the same time?”

Well, there can often be several ways of accomplishing (or failing to accomplish) God’s one way.

“How about a ‘for instance?’ I don’t get it.”

OK. Try this on for size: You are to tell the truth, but you may do so in a variety of ways. God says, for instance, tell the truth IN LOVE?  You know, telling the truth may be done lovingly or harsh, thoughtlessly—in ways that make the truth a hindrance to communication rather than a help. Is it still the same truth when spoken in these two distinct ways?

“Truth is truth, isn’t it?”

Yes.

“Then how could it be anything else but truth—even when spoken harshly?”

Consider this: Suppose you want another to know that you care about him/her? So you say, “I want you to know what I think about you . . . ,” and that’s as far as you get before the other person interrupts and says, “and I want you to know what I think about you,” and he begins to tell you off! Then the truth that you were about to speak (“I think you are a caring person”) may never surface, and a wrong idea emerges instead. Thus the truth is attempted, but failed to be heard.

“Guess there can easily be such misunderstandings.”

Sure can—and believe me they abound. So, be sure the truth really comes across, or you may try to speak truth and, instead, communicate something else—even the opposite!

Be Aware!

Many things sound good, are repeated frequently enough, and are common enough to the speech of other Christians, that there is a tendency to accept and use them simply on that basis. Thee problem is—they may be wrong; quite wrong.

“Can you give me a for instance?”

Sure. Ever hear people say “Now that was a miracle!” or ‘The devil made me do it,” or . . . well, you name it.

“Yeah. I’ve heard both. The first sounds OK, but the second I have doubts about.”

You should have doubts—as a matter of fact, you should reject both as unbiblical statements.

“Really? Why?”

Because they are unbiblical.

“How about the devil made me do it? It seems like an excuse—that’s why I’m doubtful.”

It usually is just that whenever someone says so. But, it’s more important to understand that it’s wrong because it’s unbiblical. In I John 5:18 we are told that the Evil One cannot even “touch” a believer, let alone make him think or do something. He can tempt, put obstacles in your way, and so on; but he does all of this by means of his people—who are all around you. Now, they may have no ideas of his plans, and, may act unwittingly about what they are doing; nevertheless, if he’s working through them, they can become a roadblock or a temptation to you without even knowing it. Jesus once told some of such people “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires” (John 8:44).

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Why Not?

A friend of mine had the habit of replying to a why-type question with the words, “Why not?” I’d say, “Phil (not his real name), why don’t we have lunch together at the Greek restaurant on Friday?” His reply would likely be, “Why not?”

Now, that really isn’t an answer, though he used it as such. He meant, of course, “Sure, let’s do so.” But there is always something about those two words, used in that manner, that makes me uneasy. They cause me to wonder whether there is a full commitment on the part of the one uttering them.

Indirect answers such as this can get people off the hook if, when considered in the light of a subsequent problem, the persons making them refer to the fact that they never really said “Yes.” Now, Phil never used the phrase that way, or ever tried to back out of something he agreed to by calling attention to the fact that he never gave me a positive response. With him it simply had become a habitual, common expression. And, I confess, I’ve caught myself using it as well. It was just the uneasiness that it conjured up that made it a problem (a slight problem) for me.

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