16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth."
I planned yesterday to continue on today but now feel impressed by a point I can't ignore. Truth is wonderful and beautiful but can also be dangerous and abusive. The implications of these few words from the lips of Jesus are far reaching. Truth is patient and kind. Truth must be brought with wisdom and compassion. Truth must be presented at the right time and in the right way. As a pastor I have a dangerous and intimidating job. First I must be certain that what I have to say is true. Second I must be careful to say it in the right way at the right time. Each week I stand before my congregation. In that collection of people are some who have been walking with Jesus for many years. There are others who have perhaps entered my church for the first time. There are many who are familiar with the Bible and it's message and some who are not. There are some who are having a great day and some who are hurting deeply. Every word will fall on different hearts and mean different things to different minds. The reality is that the best impact any of us can have is one on one. The gospel of John has been full of these one on one encounters Jesus had with different people and in each case His approach was different. He was bold with Nicodemus and came right to the point because he was a religious teacher. He was gentle with the woman at the well because she was deeply hurt and broken. Both received words of truth. Both were better off for having met Him. Both were set on a path toward healing.
"I have many things to tell you but you are not able to bear them now. When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth."
When I was a "slightly" younger person I spent several summers working at summer camp. One week every summer we hosted the National Camps for the Blind. I was responsible for 5 blind men. Some completely blind and some legally blind. All around the camp we set up guide ropes so they could follow them from building to building and place to place. When we went through buildings or to places beyond the ropes it was my job to guide them while at the same time making them as independent as possible. Guiding someone is a great responsibility. If there is a step and you don't tell them, they could trip and fall. To guide someone you must speak their language, you must care about them and their well being, and you must be watching so you can tell them what they need to know when they need to know it.
If those three qualifications are not met, we are unfit to be a guide.
Being a "witness" for Jesus is not about randomly spewing "truth" to whomever we want whenever we want. I can't tell you how many times I have been embarrassed at funerals listening to a preacher take advantage of a captive audience to "make sure they know the truth about what happens when we die".
Did that preacher know their language? Did he care about their well being? Was he watching them so closely that he knew this was the right time?
Here is a truth I hope we're all ready to hear. Each of us has a circle of influence. People are regularly moving in and out of our circle of influence. We are either affecting them positively or negatively. Some of them are Bible literate. Chances are most are not. Some of them may be familiar with the "truths" you know. Chances are many are not. Some have learned truths you haven't yet while you have truths you have learned that they have not. You may have been told over and over that you are a witness for Jesus and it is your job to spread the "message". This is a truth. However you may hold many truths they aren't able to bear yet. If the Spirit of Truth is gentle and patient enough to guide us progressively over time as we are able to grow, should we do less for those He brings into our circle of influence?
Learn their language first and I'm not talking about English or Spanish. Some need firm, some gentle, some few words, some more words, and some need something other than words etc...
Care about them. If God has not put love in your heart for them, neither has He called you to give them guidance.
Watch for timing. Timing is everything. If Jesus who was love and had more wisdom than we will ever have had to respect timing, so do we.
Remember we're following Jesus...