5/12/12 Dave, about 45
At Home Depot today I ran into the father of one of my former students. I had never met him personally but I had his respect because of the help I've given his son. After a lot of small talk I just directly took the initiative to ask about his spiritual beliefs, and I could tell he appreciated my boldness. He sincerely answered my questions and had questions of his own. Like so many people, he is confident he will go to heaven because of the good things he does, so I asked "What sort of good things do you do?" He answered with a long list, ranging from helping his neighbors to religious involvement. I told him that some people answer by saying "Well, I never murdered anyone!" Dave was amazed at this, because he knew this goes without saying, that we should just act in a way that is rightfully expected of us. So I responded, "Well, God gave you your health, your ability to make money, your time - aren't you just using them to do what is rightfully expected of you when you help others?" (Anyone, then, who knows the good he OUGHT to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:16-17) This is an important point to make when witnessing, because too often people simply think that their good deeds will "pay for" their bad. They need to understand that just as offering a bribe in place of justice would offend a righteous earthly judge, how much more does faith in one's own good deeds offend our righteous heavenly Judge? ("...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." Isaiah 6:6) I could see the lights going on in Dave's eyes, as he told me he'd never looked at it that way before. He had to get going before I could get to the good part about Jesus, but I know he got a lot more at Home Depot today than he bargained for!