(This is a repeat of a blog I wrote a month ago with a few changes. These guidelines seem more necessary now than when I wrote them.)
During these times, I am following these principles.
1. Everything I do and say needs to be a good advertisement for God. I am an ambassador for Jesus. A question I ask myself daily is, ”If I were a skeptical unbeliever, would I be drawn to faith in Christ by someone who was acting and talking the way I am?”
2. Part of my responsibility here is to be aware of the opinions and values of those around me, which changes all through the day as I move from situation to situation. Practicing deference is a significant discipline for those who want to influence other people positively. Deference as I define it is, ”Limiting my rights and freedom so as not to offend those who I want to convince to follow and love Jesus the way I do.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
3. I will forgive anybody of anything quickly, no matter how rude or obnoxious they might be in expressing their views, opinions, or criticisms toward me or others around me that are family or friends. I will not answer rudeness with rudeness, a critical statement with defensiveness or an insult with an insult. I will respond with grace, humor if possible, I will give a blessing from God, and I will offer to pray for them if appropriate.
1 Peter 3:8-9 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
4. I will accept, be patient with, and love those who are different than I am in their views, values, beliefs, and opinions. I will not argue or debate with them about where they are. I will ask questions and honor them by listening attentively as they give expression to their views. I will answer questions they may ask with no arrogance or superiority because of my freedom. During the days of the New Testament there was a massive division in the church over whether it was alright to eat meat offered to idols and Paul gives this advice;
Romans 14:1-4 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.