Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. – 2 Corinthians 5:11
7 But I tell you the truth, it is best for you that I go away, because if I do not, the Helper will not come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you.
8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me.
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
Friendly Persuasion was a 1955 film about a family of Quakers whose religious sect strongly opposed violence and war. They find honor and satisfaction in a non-violent way of life.
In the early days of the Civil War, the War intrudes on the family’s peaceful ways when it winds up in their backyard in southern Indiana in 1862. The film examines in great detail the dilemmas they face. Should they fight, despite their nonviolent convictions? The choice is between protecting themselves or following their religion and doing nothing.
Gary Cooper plays the patriarch of his Quaker family. He is able to stay faithful to his religious beliefs. In the process, he must probe his soul. The inner tension between dueling absolutes: protecting his family with the use of violence or adhering to his Quaker philosophy of living a nonviolent life.
There is no need to argue with people to try to convince them regarding the truth of the word of God. Nor does heaping guilt and shame upon them move them to any lasting action. The Word of God is like a lion. You do not have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself (Charles Spurgeon).
People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others (Blaise Pascal).
In New Testament times, a shepherd had a distinctive call which his own sheep knew. When he called his sheep, they would come to him. The truth of the Word of God is like the voice of a shepherd seeking his sheep. The Father’s sheep are only revealed by their affirmative response to His call.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them.
Each of the Father’s children is to act as a guide and lead others into a knowledge of the truth. The truth will take care of itself. The world is divided into two types of people the children of the light and the children of darkness. Each is revealed through exposure to the Word of God. The living Word of God inserts itself into the minds and hearts of people.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
REFLECT & PRAY
I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone (Dwight D. Eisenhower).
Father teach me the gentle art of friendly persuasion. It is Your promise to gather Your sheep. It is my responsibility to voice Your call. No warfare is required.
2 Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.
Because we know and respect what the Father has said in His Word, we are motivated to persuade people. We share His ways through our lives. We should be different. As we share the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through our words and our conduct, in some mystical way, we exude a peculiar aroma. The fragrance we effuse provokes diametrically opposed responses among people. For some it can be very alluring, others it is quite repulsive.
“Using this image of the incense, Paul pictured the Christian ministry. He saw believers as incense, giving forth the fragrance of Jesus Christ in their lives and labors. To God, believers are the very fragrance of Jesus Christ. To other believers, we are the fragrance of life; but to unbelievers, we are the fragrance of death. . . The way we live, and work can mean life or death to a lost world around us” (Wiersbe).
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.
16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
John 16:8 And He [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
The Greek word translated convince is elegcho. It means to expose, convict, reprove, or convince. No one English word can translate it adequately. It involves the interrogation of a witness, or someone on trial, or an opponent in an argument. The Greek word signifies the process of cross-examining people until they see and admit their errors or acknowledge the force of an argument which was not previously recognized (Barclay).
Usually the Holy Spirit is depicted as a defense attorney, a paraclete, for believers. But here, He is a prosecuting attorney, an ADA. The Holy Spirit uses gentle persuasion to expose things as they really are, not as they appear to be.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own truth. When the Holy Spirit speaks, His opinion is Truth! He convinces people regarding objective Truth. The Holy Spirit deals with each person individually and focuses on eternal matters of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Convincing is not condemning. A convinced person stands convicted. They often experience guilt or condemnation. It may be spontaneous. But it is not part of the process.
Can one of the Father’s children resist and spurn the work Holy Spirit? As we search the memories in our hearts, the answer is self-evident.
Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart . . .