When John had cancer five years ago, I tearfully begged his surgeon to find a way to treat it other than surgery. His tone of voice showed more impatience than compassion as he gruffly answered, “I’m trying to save your husband’s life!” His apparent arrogance offended me. And more significantly, I whole-heartedly believed that, due to his breathing limitations from having Polio, surgery would certainly kill John faster than the cancer would.
In my opinion, surgery represented a ruthless, almost savage, approach to John’s cancer, and I desperately wanted a gentler way of dealing with it. Again, I tried to reason with him. By that time, John had been severely weakened from a heart attack, so the doctor informed me (again with an apparent lack of compassion in his tone), “Without the surgery, he only has weeks to live.”
Surgeons have to steel their emotions, or else they probably couldn’t face the life-and-death nature of their profession. If both his tone and his decision smacked of brutality, he wanted me to understand the even greater brutality of colon cancer. He would take great risks, even those that deeply upset me, in order to save my husband.
I’ve been accused, many times in my life, of being harsh in my presentation of doctrine. Instead of approaching false doctrine with negativity and anger, why don’t I try a gentler, more positive approach? Why not have the compassion that Jesus had? The gentleness that Paul instructed Timothy to have?
Gentleness indeed has its place, especially with people who recognize their sin and know how desperately they need a Savior. Once the Holy Spirit used Scripture to expose the the utter depravity of my heart, convincing me that I deserved nothing but eternal separation from God in hell, the mercy and kindness of Jesus dying on the cross in my place filled me with joy! But that joy could never have come until I came face-to-face with my spiritual cancer.
I’d been active in my church, quite convinced that my religious activity guaranteed my acceptability to God. My gentle pastor never confronted sin in my life. In fact, he assured me of my salvation, not because Jesus died for me, but because he saw me as a “good girl.” His gentleness ignored the cancer of sin that would have damned me to hell if Jesus hadn’t led me to some harsh, uncomfortable passages in the Sermon on the Mount.
Like the brutal truth that saved John’s physical life five years ago, brutal truth brought me into eternal life. So if my posts seem brutal and unfeeling, think back to John’s surgeon….and realize that he showed great compassion after all.