True confession, I have been afraid to share the gospel, afraid to stand up for what I believe, afraid to say anything, because I have been afraid of being falsely accused.
After all, the world we live in today has changed the definitions of what it means to offend, to be racist, or to be a bigot.
It is a world where people desire to scare you out of standing up for your position, based on false accusations and name calling.
A world where your neighbor can make any snarky remark they would like and yet your carefully constructed response is decried as judgmental or out of line.
And I've let it scare the dickens out of me. And I'm sorry to say that I have.
Because why should I care what they think or say, when I know the truth? No offense was meant and I am definitely not a bigot or racist (or sexist for that matter).
Reading in my scriptures yesterday, specifically the New Testament, Matthew chapter 10, a few thoughts came to mind that helped me recognize that I needed to let go of my fears, that showed me that I was hiding my candle under a bushel.
When our Savior asked us not to offend, I don't believe he meant that it was necessarily our fault if others became offended with what we said. There were plenty of people offended by the very doctrine our Savior preached. But he was not being offensive.
Rather, I believe he was speaking about the intent of our hearts. Definitely, he is asking us to be sensitive and understanding. Definitely, he wants us to avoid purposefully hurting another person's feelings. Definitely, he asks us to use wise judgement and most importantly, the Holy Ghost, in all situations we find ourselves in.
But just because the pharisee and the sadducee find offense in the doctrine of Christ, does not mean offense was given.
But oh, how I've let people who don't even try and be sensitive to my positions, who blatantly name call, accuse, and respond in snide remarks, make me afraid to stand up for what is right. Make me afraid to share the gospel.
Satan has tried to make the world so afraid of "offending" that they have begun to back down on standing up for what is right and what is true. They have begun to fear missionary work.
Satan's voice is the voice of contention. Loudness. Anger and hatred. But the voice of our Father in Heaven is still and small. It is the voice of peace.
So we must not let the world scare us! The world will be offended by the truth no matter how carefully we tread. Our Savior has asked us to stand up for and spread the Kingdom of God, and we were told that we WILL be falsely accused as we do so. (Matthew 10:17, 21-22)
He did not say that we would only be reviled if we did it wrong.
No, even by sharing the gospel in the most sensitive way, prompted and guided and directed by the spirit of God, people will hate and persecute us. (Matthew 5:10)
So, while it is our utmost duty not to offend, it is also our utmost duty not to fear others choosing to be offended. In other words, just because somebody has become offended by the gospel of Christ, does not mean offense was given, or that we were not listening to the spirit.
As I said before, many chose to be offended by the Savior during his own walk upon this earth. But he was not giving offense. He was sharing the truth, out of love and concern for mankind.
Is it more loving to allow a child to hit out of anger, or to teach him more appropriate ways to express his feelings? He may be offended or annoyed by the parent correcting and teaching him, but no offense has been given, rather counsel that will lead to his well being and happiness.
So, let us share the gospel out of love. Let us have the courage to add our voices to the public square, no matter how the public may respond. Let us be sensitive and kind and careful to follow the spirit as we do so. And let us trust in Christ, for if we confess him before men, he will surely confess us before the Father. (Matthew 10:32)
We will be his sheep...and we will be involved in the greatest work on earth. The salvation of man.
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16