As I adapt to my new position at work, I have begun to take on new responsibilities. However, as the “new guy,” I am sometimes concerned that I might step on someone’s toes if I stray into their area of expertise without consulting them first.
Sometimes, we can have a similar concern when witnessing to others about Christ. We may think “I don’t know what their religious beliefs are, and I don’t want to offend them.” Let’s see if this is a valid concern….
Jesus came to earth to give His life for ours, but also came to give us an example. He stepped on people’s toes. You can read in Matthew 15:3-9 where Jesus resisted the Pharisees’ about their improper teaching of the commandments. In Mark 11:15-17, Jesus furiously overturned tables in the temple. When it came to religious leaders, Jesus was harsh and unbridled! However, when it came to non-believers, Jesus took a different approach.
A popular story that many people know is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Let’s take a look at that story. Before we begin, remember that Jesus knows all. He knows our hearts, even that of this sinful woman. Yet, he still reached out to her:
6 . . . Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:6-7 NIV)
The story continues with a dialogue about drinking water and Living water.
However, note what happens near the end – after Jesus shares the truth with her about Living water.
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15 NIV)
Note that upon receiving the truth, she is convicted, and wants to know more.
16 [Jesus] told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:16-18 NIV)
Jesus questions her again, and the truth is revealed about her sin. But notice, Jesus is NOT the one that opens her eyes to the sin; He allows her to be convicted upon her verbal admission. He only confirms her faults once she has already seen them.
Because Jesus was willing to accept her as she was, without concern for her past, He was able to approach her with love. And because of this approach, we find out later that “39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39 NIV)
When approaching somebody for Christ, are you speaking the truth in love or are you stepping on their toes? I believe there is a fine line. Pray that God will give you the right opportunity and the right words to witness for Him, without stepping on toes.