I came across and interesting passage of scripture this morning. As I read them, I found myself thinking about witnessing and sharing Jesus with others. What if saying nothing at all is sin? What if we are accountable to God for what we say and what we don’t say? We are called, as believers, to witness to the
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In Acts 17 Paul leaves Athens where he is basically ridiculed for his faith, and for preaching the gospel. He leaves Silas and Timothy there to finish the work that he started with those who did believe. In Chapter 18 of Acts, Paul makes his way into Corinth. He meets a Jesus loving couple named Aquila and Priscilla, where they all live and work together. But, Paul being Paul, goes into the synagogues day after day and preaches the good news of Jesus Christ to the Jews living in Corinth. But, much like the people I have faced over the years, they oppose him and reject him and end up blaspheming God.
“But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” Acts 18:6
Paul, faced with opposition speaks two Old Testament statements to the Jews who refused to listen. The first one is that he shakes his garments. As I read these words I remembered the words of Jesus who tells us that if someone does not receive our words, our testimonies, our witness, then we are to shake the dust off our feet and keep walking. (Luke 10:10-11) We are going to face opposition; we are going to face rejection when we witness to others about Jesus Christ. But we must not take it personal. They are not rejecting us, they are rejecting Christ. We are called to be witnesses for Jesus and for the sake of the gospel. Whether someone receives the gospel or not is between them and God. We cannot be accountable for their rejection. We are only accountable for our actions and our decisions. We are accountable for what we speak to them, and what we don’t speak to them. If someone is rejecting your witness, then don’t keep trying to push the door open. All that results from that is anger, disputes and our witness for Christ is damaged. If they resist, shake the dust off and keep moving.
But, Paul doesn’t stop there, and neither should we. He not only shakes off his garments, but he then states that their “blood be upon (their) own heads”. He states that he is clean. What exactly does he mean by this? How can someone’s blood be on our hands? How can we be accountable for someone not accepting Jesus Christ? If we go to the book of Ezekiel, we will find the answers.
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die; and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered his soul.’” Ezekiel 3:18-19
When we see a brother or sister in the Lord falling away, falling into sin, and we do not say anything, we are just as much a partaker of their sins as they are. If we see a brother or sister in need and we do nothing to help them, should we not be held accountable before God? The bible clearly states to us that when we see the wicked man, and we choose to keep quiet, we choose to not show him the way of life in Jesus Christ, and we are accountable for that man’s death. I know this sounds harsh, but I think it is imperative for us to understand that we are going to be held accountable for what we say, and what we don’t say.
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Think for a moment. If you saw a person drowning, and all you did was stand there watching, would you not be considered guilty of that person’s death, or at least a partaker of their demise? How can we just stand by and continue to watch the world fall deeper and deeper into sin and not be willing to speak up? How can we watch our unbelieving loved ones sin over and over again and just watch them die in those same sins- not saying anything? Paul stated that the blood of those that rejected Jesus Christ was not on his hands. He warned them. He told them that the Day of Judgment was coming. He told them about the free gift of Jesus Christ. He was not a partaker in their sins. He was clean. Can we say the same thing?
Even though some may reject us, some may oppose us, and some may even try to kill us- we cannot be silent. If we choose to say nothing at all, then we are just as guilty as the sinner who is dying in his own sin. This same principle applies to believers. If we see a brother or sister in the Lord going under the waves of sin, and we do nothing, we say nothing- then we are accountable to God for their demise, just as much as they are. How can we say we love like Jesus if we are not willing to speak when He says speak? How can we say we are witnesses for Christ if we just stand there watching someone drown?
There will be those who reject, but that is not on us- that is on them. We are accountable to God for what we say and what we don’t say. I would rather throw that drowning person a life preserver and they reject it, then not do anything at all. How someone receives the gospel is between them and God. How someone receives your warnings is between them and God. But we, as Christians, must be willing to speak instead of just standing there saying nothing at all.
Father I pray that we would realize that we will be accountable for what we say and what we do not say. Father I pray for Your forgiveness, I pray for Your mercy, for those who needed a life preserver, and I chose to stand by and do nothing. Father, give us hearts to hear Your Holy Spirit, and eyes to see the drowning of this world. Give us courage to do more than stand and watch, and give us boldness to say something. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.