It is natural to get angry when the church we love is denigrated, when plainly revealed doctrines are cast aside, and when wolves in sheep’s clothing lead Christian young people to eternal destruction. At these times, though, we must not give the devil a foothold by sinning in our anger.
An important principle to remember is that people are not the enemy, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Each person on the planet is of infinite value, because each person was purchased with the blood of Jesus. As long as a person lives, we should assume that Christ is longing to draw that person to Himself and still has hope for that individual.
It is our duty to call sin by its right name, but in so doing, we must always be respectful, and the goal of our every interaction must be to draw sinners to Christ. Even when we warn the church about the evil intents and doctrines of certain “Christian” leaders (those who “say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”), we must do so without mocking or malice.
Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save. Steps to Christ p. 12
The Great Controversy will be won by love, and it is only through love that the Kingdom of God can grow. If we use coercion or ridicule against apostates when we have the power to do so, we do God a disservice. We cannot fight God’s battles using Satan’s tactics.
Satan presents his counterfeit Christianity as the true way to foster love and peace in the world, and he has servants who seem to live good moral lives, and who treat even their opponents with courtesy. Many well-intentioned people accept this counterfeit, become disciples of these false prophets, and truly believe that these false doctrines will make the world a better place. If a Christian uses Satan’s tactics to uphold truth, Satan will be quick to impress these disciples’ minds with the contrast between the manners of their courteous apostate leader and God’s insensitive servant.
To fight God’s battles using God’s tactics will require a great deal of trust in God on our part, because meekness never strikes us as a winning stance. But we must remember that it is the infinite power and wisdom of God that we lean on, not our own strength or intelligence. God has promised that His prescribed means will achieve a glorious end, and the promise is sure.