Sometimes, when I’m talking about Scriptural issues with some of my friends I tend to allow my passion for making the argument get in the way of communicating in a right spirit. I get so wrapped up in making the case that I sometimes use words or phrases that seem to offend the person I’m speaking with.
I want to respond to people in a way that doesn’t offend. Maybe it’s that I need to ask God to soften my heart more? I just don’t like that those words slip out… I want to address this before it becomes an issue.
Here’s hoping, Bill
Its already too late. Its already an issue. Fortunately, God fixes issues. Hooray!
We call what you are going through the “cage stage.” People, especially young men, who discover great new things like Reformed theology, should be locked in a cage until they calm back down.
One thing that will help you through this is to remember that your theology is true. God is sovereign. This means that he has everyone where he wants them theologically. This is a great truth because it frees you from the responsibility to “fix” everyone. You can’t change anyone anyway, only God can change hearts. All you can do is love people. And you can do that.
There is a higher right than being right. So make up your mind to love people. Make up your mind to have the mind of Christ and treat others like Christ treated them. Perhaps it would be good for you to read the Gospels again and notice how he treated the people around him. Then imitate him.
As you read, ask God to transform your heart into a loving and sweet heart. It doesn’t mean you have to change your basic theology, but it does mean that you have to change how you express it to others.
It sounds like you have the TULIP and Solas kind of theology under your belt, but you have missed the theology of Love, Grace, and Mercy. Doctrine can be hard, with sharp edges. Biblical theology is solid, but it is also soft and squishy, with rounded edges. It is winsome and attractive.
You’ll know you’re doing better when you can calmly chat with a little old lady who doesn’t know her theology from a hole in the ground, but loves Jesus with all her heart. You are getting somewhere when after saying something completely crazy, instead of trying to fix her, you simply nod and smile sweetly while holding her hand or giving her a warm hug. You can be at rest in your mind that God loves her and will straighten her out without your immediate help and until then you’ll just love her.
Then, you’ll know you’re really doing well when you can do the same thing with a young hot-under-the-collar man who says something really nuts in an authoritative manner, full of bluster, with that look in his eye. If it isn’t in a situation where you need to guard something, you can simply smile and sweetly say, “Thank you for the information,” while saying inside, “God, you have a bit of work to do in this fellow, bless him with wisdom and even greater love for your truth.”
Over time, you will find that people will begin to care much more about what you think and will begin asking for your opinion. Then you can, with the goal of filling them with the Joy of the Lord, answer with honey on your lips and grace in your heart.
I hope this helps.