|A young couple are in the market to buy their first family car. They go to the dealership, meet the salesman, and then go through the preliminary discussions about what type of vehicle they’re looking for. The salesman takes them out into the lot and shows them a few models.
This young couple finds one that they really like. It will do the job for them and fits their budget. It’s plain to see that this will be an easy sell and probably a large commission for the car salesman.
And then, just as they’re about to close the deal, the salesman whips out his keys and swipes the side of the vehicle. A large, long scratch now adorns the side of the car. The salesman looks at the horrified couple and starts loudly explaining that they don’t want this car. He has a laundry list of complaints and with each item on that list his voice gets louder and louder. The couple quickly flees the car lot in terror, wondering what they have done to deserve this embarrassment.
If such a scene had really happened, we would think that the salesman was (A) insane, (B) an idiot, or (C) both. The potential to make a sale was well within his grasp– but he threw it all away. All too often, Christians do this very thing.
I’ve seen it happen many times. A person will come into the church for the first time. They’ll visit for a few Sundays, hear the Gospel, and may even get saved. But just as this person is starting to get comfortable with the church and the things of God, someone else in the church will go out of their way to offend that person.
They’ll gossip to the visitor about all the dirt in the church or berate the church leadership in front of the individual. If the new Christian unwittingly dares to not live up to the older member’s high standards, then the new Christian will be chewed out for their failure instead of being given time to grow. At this point, the visitor or new Christian drops out of church, and the older members wonder what went wrong.
Folks, there are enough people shooting at us that we need not aim at our foot. When we gossip to or attack new Christians, we do them a disservice and give them a reason to be angry with God and the church. These people are babes in Christ. Just as a newborn will be easily offended, so will they. They need to be sheltered and discipled– not ridiculed or made the object of a tongue lashing.
Season your speech with grace so that when someone new is exposed to the faith they won’t see a scarred car, but a life they’ll want to live.