Read: Matthew 2:1-12; Matthew 2:16-18; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Should I? Or, shouldn't I? That was the question that briefly bounced around in my mind on Friday. May I explain why I was wondering what I should do? I had read a devotion from Creation Moments which highlighted a very unusual creature that doesn't look like might be expected. It lives in Madagascar. It is the Aye-Aye monkey. This unusual creature has huge ears, but also has a longer- than- usual middle finger. With that appendage, it is able to get the grubs it needs. It is able to act like a woodpecker in a place where no woodpeckers live. What a unique creation of the God Who made it. Although monkeys are not among my favorite creatures, I am fascinated by the wonders that God has tucked into His creation. The specific ways God has crafted each creature so it can live out its life together with the other animals. There is something else about monkeys, and that was why a question rumbled around in my mind.
Someone for whom we have been praying really enjoys monkeys. They are his favorite animal. He does not, as far as we know, believe that there is a wondrous Creator/Redeemer Whom He needs and Who loves him. With that in mind, I wondered if I Should send him the devotion that was so interesting and at the same time lauded Creator God? After all, there have been times when truth held out was rejected. Should I risk either indifference or irritation this time too? I opted to do so. Why? Because if this precious one is offended, it will not be due to a desire to do so. No, that reaction might come, but it will be due to the fact that truth can offend its hearers, even if it is presented with grace and out of a heart of love.
That was surely the case this week when former NFL coach Tony Dungy spoke at the March for Life. Dungy spoke of the joy of people in masse praying for Damar Hamlin when he suffered cardiac arrest on the football field. The coach spoke about it being miraculous that people came together in order to pray for Mr. Hamlin. He asked that we do that same thing again. This time, he called for prayers on behalf of precious babies in the womb. He said that the Lord would answer our prayers. Reactions to Tony Dungy's message were mixed. Many people were encouraged and glad that he had used this platform the way he did. Others were angry. One man even said that NBC should fire Tony Dungy who works as a football analyst, for what he considers to be hateful remarks. Some mocked Dungy, and dismissed what he said.
We shouldn't be surprised by indifference or anger when we present truth. Even when we hold it out with the right attitude and a heart overflowing with God's love. We see this played out in the Savior's life in Luke 4:16-30. This is when Jesus was violently opposed because He spoke truth. Imagine the scene when people in Nazareth tried to throw the Holy One from the brow of a hill. They were so offended by Jesus' words that, if it had been possible, they would have murdered the Promised One.
Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, that we are either a sweet fragrance or the fragrance of death to those around us. To those who reject the Lord, we are an unpleasant stench; however, to those who are being saved, we are like the lovely fragrance of flowers. Some people are indifferent concerning truth, but if they continue on that road, it will be the same as if they had rejected the Lord outright.
Christmas is in the rear-view mirror, but let's return one more time to Bethlehem. In Matthew 2, we see these same reactions. First, let’s look at the religious leaders. When queried by the wise men about where the Promised One would be born, they didn't have to miss a beat. They knew the answer because they knew what the prophet Micah had said, Matthew 2:6-7. How good it is to know truth. That is, if it has an effect on our lives. The religious leaders pointed the way for the wise men, but they didn't go to see the One the questioners were seeking. Truth led them not to action, but to apathy. Second, let's look at Herod. He was interested in knowing where the King was, but he was motivated by a wicked heart. He was the enemy of truth. Like Satan, Herod opposed the Holy One, doing all he could to stop the King of Kings from accomplishing all He came to do. Truth did no good for either the religious leaders or Herod because they didn't act upon it with open hearts. Third, let’s look at the wise men. They longed for truth and after receiving it, they acted upon it.
James would say that they were doers of the Word, James 1:22-25. What a rich blessing they received when they saw the One they were seeking. What a joy it surely was for them to worship Him and give Him their gifts. They were the ones who went away blessed because truth effected their lives. We will have one of these three reactions to the devotion we sent. It might be received with indifference, irritation or anger or, hopefully, with a desire to know the One Who is lauded by the author. It is worth the risk because we love the one to whom we sent it, and we wanted to honor the Lord.
Back to Tony Dungy. He also was the recipient of these same three reactions. I'm certain he knew upfront that there would be very different ways people would receive the truth he shared. Some would be offended as is often the case when truth if shared. Yet, it is worth the risk because some hearts will surely be like the wise men's hearts. Truth will be received and God will become known and honored.