As Christians, therefore, we must consider not only the content of what we say to the culture around us but also the tone with which we express ourselves. Paul reminds us:
We see in the life of Jesus a remarkable ability to be kind to those He encountered even while boldly speaking the truth. Too often we fail to follow Jesus in this aspect of His mission. Instead of taking the posture of an ambassador, pleading with all to be reconciled to God (see v. 20), we take an adversarial posture. We equate our measure of conviction with our level of outrage; the more conviction we have, the louder and angrier we think we can present our argument.
Our challenge, then, is to cultivate the kind of convictional kindness in our witness that we see in Jesus. This kindness isn’t weak or passive. In fact, kindness is an act of spiritual warfare.
We typically don’t think of kindness as a weapon; instead, we think of kindness as the exact opposite. But remember: we’re citizens of and ambassadors for a different kind of kingdom from the world. It would only make sense, then, that the weapons at our disposal aren’t the weapons of destruction the world uses.
And the people we engage with aren’t our opponents; they’re potentially our future allies by God’s grace. We should treat them with the kind of convictional kindness that reflects our belief that there are no lost causes when it comes to the mercy of God.
As the church, we have the incredible luxury of operating from a position of victory. That knowledge changes everything about the way we engage with the culture around us.
And as we make arguments, even as we understand that arguments are merely the equivalent of brush clearing to get to the main point: a personal connection with the voice that rings down through the ages from Nazareth. We want not simply to convey truth claims but to do so with the northern-Galilean accent that makes demons scream and chains fall. Kindness isn’t surrender. Gentleness isn’t passivity. Kindness and gentleness, rooted in gospel conviction—that’s war.