Talking Torah Part 2: How Not to Bully Others With Your Attitude
You know how sometimes friends or family can start getting defensive when you have opposing points of view on a topic, especially relating to the Torah and their own religious beliefs? Have you noticed that this seems to happen to an even greater extreme if the person is involved in some sort of organized religious system? Sometimes it seems the more you try to show them the truth of Scripture, the more hostile they become showing a side you would have never thought existed. You may even be called a bully, bible thumper, or Torah Tyrant. It doesn’t always have to be that way; your approach may be the issue.
Last time we discussed some of what to expect when you first come into Hebrew Roots. We even gave our recommendation on what or when you should entertain Torah-related discussions. If you decide to enter into a conversation about the Torah with someone, there are three things about yourself you need to control and make sure they come from a place of love.
Today we are going to discuss the first one, your attitude. If you have not, we strongly recommend you read the previous post in this series before continuing on in this one. Each post in this series will build upon the context of the previous one. To read the previous post, CLICK HERE now. Taking these posts out of context and order may result in a poor presentation of the truth to your loved ones.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind when you sharing the applicability of Torah with others, is that they are loved by God and therefore you need to show them love. Keeping this in mind, helps keep things in the proper loving perspective. You cannot show them love if your words and actions are born out of an unloving attitude.
In order to talk about our attitude we must first understand perspective. A person’s perspective is the lens through which they view the world. This lens is how we interpret events and words, our experiences. Your attitude is directly tied to your perspective. We choose our perspective and thus we choose our attitude. Our attitudes then dictate our behaviors. The other component that drives our attitude is our goal, what we are trying to accomplish in any given situation or conversation. For example, are we striving to communicate truth with love or to prove a point? Are we trying to convince them of some great “truth” we’ve found as opposed to the “truth” that they know?
Remember, you and your beliefs are not the focus of the Word, love is. YHWH is love (1 John 4:8). You are to be a vehicle of love, a light (Matthew 5:14-16) to the world. People are to be drawn to Messiah through our example, our light. Often, when we are not being a light, we are being a wedge or stumbling block because of our attitudes, actions, and words.
If we claim to be children of God, then our lives need to reflect Him and His love; people should see Him in us. How do they do that? Through our fruit. The fruit of the spirit of God is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; it is with this fruit that we should approach any conversation with our loved ones when sharing the truth; this will be loving our neighbor. Our goal should never be to convince someone their beliefs are wrong or that we are right. Rather than striving to prove anything to our loved ones, we need to simply share what we have learned, but only if they are open to it. If a person isn’t open to what you have to say, then stop talking about it. Messiah said not to cast your pearls before swine. Anyone who isn’t truly open to what you have to say isn’t going to hear what you’re saying, even if you have the best attitude.
So let’s take a look at how our attitude affects our approach.
There is a difference between sharing something exciting that we have learned and trying to get someone to see how everything they’ve learned is wrong and that we have the truth. For example, we could say this:
“I’ve learned that we’ve been lied to for years in the church and that everything we were taught is wrong. We need to be following the Law of God because that’s what Jesus did. Did you know Christmas and Easter are actually pagan sun god worship days? I don’t understand it all yet, but I’ve been testing all of my old beliefs using a Hebrew perspective and they’re almost all wrong. You should start testing everything too; it’s so clear that Christmas and Easter is wrong when you look at their pagan roots. I may not know how everything works yet, but I know a lot of what I’ve been taught is wrong. If you just look at the bible through its Hebrew roots you will see the same thing. If you really want to love God then you need to stop celebrating Easter and Christmas and just do what the Bible says. If you don’t do that, then you don’t really love God and you’re just following man-made things. Obey the law of God, it’s so freeing!”
Or we could say:
“Hey, I’ve recently heard something that really made me think. I’ve heard that obeying the Law of God is actually how we show Him that we love Him! I’m not sure how it all works yet, but I’m starting to study some stuff and it’s really got me thinking that maybe I haven’t understood the Bible as well as I thought I did. I’m even starting to think that what I thought were Jewish holidays like Passover and Unleavened Bread, aren’t really just for the Jews. It’s actually kind of cool to think that God set up holidays for His people to make us different from the rest of the world.
Have you heard that the traditions of Christmas and Easter might have a history steeped in sun god worship practices? From what I’ve seen, there may actually be some truth to it. What are your thoughts?”
Do you see the differences there? Both individuals are well-intentioned, but their approaches are vastly different. Both are sharing from their heart, but their intent or perceived intent, appears to be quite different. Which do you think would receive a more favorable response?
The first one is full of exuberance and zeal for what they believe to be truth. They’re excited and want everyone to see the same things they do. However they may have come across a bit pushy, arrogant; like they have all of the answers. They appear to have an agenda, an intent beyond simply sharing. It could be said they’re trying to make their “blind” friend see the “light” and how wrong everything in Christianity is. Without realizing it, they may be attacking their loved one’s personal beliefs causing them to get defensive. At that point, what response does an individual usually have? A positive or negative one? If it continues do you think they’ll come around or will they become increasingly hostile?
The second example is simply sharing some things they’ve been learning are offering an invitation for others to come alongside them on their new journey. One is full of well-intentioned arrogance and superiority while the other has humility, gentleness, and remains at peace. One has the fruit of the spirit, the other does not. (Please note: we gave extreme examples to make a point, most likely your conversations will be somewhere in between those two.)
In order to make sure you have the proper attitude when speaking to someone about the Torah first ask yourself these questions and in this order:
- What is my point and purpose of having this conversation? What am I trying to achieve?
- Can I maintain calm, peace, and a loving attitude if they become hostile and disagree with me?
- What is my knowledge level on a subject? Do I just know something isn’t true or can I correctly and fully explain how or where a misunderstanding is in a loving manner?
We will cover these questions in a bit more depth in a future blog post.
How you honestly answer these questions will determine whether or not you should move forward in a conversation. You may even need to ask yourself these questions before you respond to someone while in the midst of a conversation in order to help you maintain the proper attitude. If you have to do this in the midst of a discussion ask yourself an additional question or two: “What is this person responding or reacting to? Was it something I said or how I said it?”
In conclusion, communicating the Torah peacefully without pushing away those you love isn’t about how convincing your argument is or how wrong they are any more than good food is about how hungry you are. One really has nothing to do with the other.
Sometimes we may know the right words to say, but we come across with the wrong attitude. Usually the person will reject what we’re saying at that time, even if it was starting to make sense to them. When they are faced with an inappropriate attitude (perceived or otherwise) they will start to put a fence up to end the hostility they are feeling. If this happens, stop and look for an opportunity to learn something about how to better communicate with love. Even if you do mess up one interaction, that isn’t the end of the world, you may still have planted a seed for God to water.
And if you think about it, that’s good news!
It means it’s okay that your loved one doesn’t get it right now, their heart may not be ready for it yet. Ultimately it’s between that person and YHWH; you just need to make sure you aren’t being a stumbling block for them because of your attitude. It means you can make mistakes as long as you learn from them and YHWH can still make it work for His glory.
If a conversation isn’t going well then stop, do some thinking, check your perspective and strive to keep the proper attitude, love. If you truly love these people keep them in prayer, show them love, and seek the will of the Father, He will work all things together for His good be glorified. Your attitude isn’t everything, but it can go a long way towards someone being open to what you have to say.
And when your loved ones make a decision to either accept or reject the truth you can still love them where they are and enjoy your time together because you have the right attitude.