LABORING AS SOLDIERS TO GAIN THE VICTORY
Many of us have been reared in America and have been influenced by the atmosphere of looseness which is so common in this country. This has caused a weakness in the character of many young people. For example, the Bible clearly distinguishes between males and females. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” God likes to keep a clear difference between man and woman. However, many who have been saved and are the lovers of the Lord Jesus have been influenced by the present way of living. As a result of such an atmosphere, many improper things have been picked up and wrought into their living.
When we go to a home, there may be people of many different ages, both male and female. We must learn how to behave properly with each family member. If we are not strict in our behavior, we may forfeit our standing with the family. The New Testament likens us who love the Lord and who are working for His interest to soldiers (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:4). Soldiers fight in order to win the battle. They could never behave as non-soldiers. They should not speak loosely or act loosely. All their behavior reflects the strict training they have received so that they may fulfill their duty.
LEARNING TO REACH ALL AGES
When we enter a home, we must be prepared so that we can open each heart in the entire household. This may require learning a simple song that can be enjoyed by a young child. If that household has a young one, such a song will attract the young one and soften the hearts of the father and mother. This is not a small matter because such a thing may be the very way to reach them. If we ignore the smallest member of the family, we will probably offend and hurt the parents’ feelings, making them unable to receive our words.
In the Gospels, some brought their children to the Lord Jesus. The disciples tried to rebuke the people, but the Lord received the children, took them into His arms, and blessed them (Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 9:36-37; Luke 9:46-48). It seems as though the Lord Jesus forgot everything else just so He could take care of the little ones. No doubt He was using this situation to train His disciples to be human. Many Christians today aspire to be like the angels, but the Lord Jesus is not interested in our becoming like angels. He cares only for our being human.
Paul gives very detailed fellowship to Timothy regarding dealing with various kinds of people. First Timothy 5:1-3 says, “Do not upbraid an elderly man, but entreat him as a father; younger men as brothers; elderly women as mothers; younger women as sisters, in all purity. Honor widows who are really widows.”
ACCOMMODATING ALL KINDS OF PERSONS
From the Bible we can realize that for others’ profit, we must learn to accommodate their character, their age, their disposition, and even their ways of doing certain things. This need is especially obvious in America because it is such a melting pot of all kinds of people. We must not forget that in our going out to preach the gospel, we are going not only for individuals but for families. This requires us to learn to be human.
One of the most effective missionaries to China was Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission. When he first went to China as a missionary, he was located near the coast. His biography tells us that one day as he was with the Lord near the seashore, he became burdened to take the gospel to the people in the interior provinces of China. Therefore, he called his mission the China Inland Mission. The people in the interior of China were very conservative. To reach them, Hudson Taylor adopted their way of dress, even to the extent of wearing the Chinese “pigtail” hairstyle. This demonstrated how human he was, and many Chinese became convinced by this. Other missionaries kept their Western style of dress, and this offended many of the Chinese. But Hudson Taylor’s putting away of the foreign manner of dress attracted many. He specified in his will that he should be buried in China upon his death. His life demonstrates to us the importance of learning to act in such a way as to be pleasing to others.
Every sinner is very human. Humanity comes out of God’s creating hand, so today we must be very, very human. The most human person was the Lord Jesus. This is not so easy to learn, but if we learn to be human, we will gain many people for the Lord. If I come to your home wearing a Chinese long gown and speak only Chinese to you, you will think I am of no profit to you as an American. But if I dress as you do and speak American English in a clear way, you may be quite surprised and touched. When I was first invited to Texas, I began to hear the expression “y’all.” Later I found out that it meant “you all.” If we learn to say “y’all” when we are with Texans, they will become happy with us. The principle is that if you are going to open people’s hearts, you must be human. All the utterances, all the expressions, and all the words you use must relate to them. You may be quite learned and able to share the truths from the Bible, but if your speaking is not human, your utterance is not human, and your attitude is not human, it will not be easy for you to find someone to listen to you.
TAKING THE BIBLICAL WAY
We must take the biblical way. Many in Christianity may not take this biblical way, but we must take it. The Lord Jesus told Zaccheus, “I must stay in your house” (Luke 19:5). I believe the Lord Jesus stayed at least one night with the household of Zaccheus. If we would be so human as to stay for one night in someone’s home, this may open that whole household to the gospel of Christ. Our staying with them may cause the whole family to be saved.
About forty years ago, I spent much time in people’s homes, riding from home to home on my bicycle. If I stayed to have lunch or dinner with them, this touched their heart very much, and they heartily received whatever I shared with them. After such a time, they were happy to go with me to the meetings of the church.
As we are carrying out this biblical way, we must realize that this is according to the pattern the Lord Jesus set up. The biblical way is very, very human. If we will learn to be human in all our actions, we will become so available to all the people whom we contact.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)