Winning the person or winning the battle?

That is a question I often have to ask myself when talking with a Mormon.  That is a question I often ask other Christians who are dialoguing with Mormons.

It’s an important question because it deals with attitudes.  And the answer will often be seen in how I talk, won’t it?  Not so much in what I say, but especially in how I say it.  Won’t my tone be dramatically different when I’m focusing on winning the person?

That was the case with the prophet Isaiah.  The 15th and 16th chapters of his book record the Lord’s judgment on the country of Moab, one of Israel’s long-standing enemies.  Therefore you would expect to hear Isaiah speaking with a little glee.  After so long, Moab is finally going to be punished!  But that is not what you see.  Instead of glee, we see sadness. Just a couple of examples:  “My heart shall cry out for Moab” (15:5).   “Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer.” (16:9). Isaiah announced the Lord’s judgment with a tear in his eye and with agony in his voice.  It is obvious that he was concerned for them – even though they were enemies.

Whenever I talk with a Mormon I pray that the Lord allows me to do two things.  The first is to speak his truth to them.  Never do I want to compromise that truth or even soft pedal it.  It’s way too important.  Especially do I want to unceasingly proclaim the amazing truth that it was entirely Jesus’ work, and not one ounce of my work, that has brought me into a wonderful relationship with Heavenly Father now and gives me the unshakeable confidence that I will live with him for all eternity.  Jesus didn’t just open the door for me and now it’s up to me to enter and proceed to the Father, as one Mormon told me last week.  No, he did it all.  It’s especially that truth that I want to always proclaim.

But I also pray that I do that in love.  That my goal is not to win the battle, but to win the person.  That I do that, not with a sense of satisfaction that I’m right and they are wrong; but rather with sadness when the person doesn’t accept that and great joy when they do.  Especially do I pray that I reflect that in how I talk – in my tone, even when that tone is misunderstood.

I decided to share this today for two reasons.  One is because I think it’s an important reminder for us all.  But the other reason is because I just received an email from a concerned reader of this blog.  He was concerned about the tone of many of the comments.  He was wondering how all this could be God-pleasing.

Therefore it is my plea that all who comment do so respectfully.  There is nothing wrong with taking strong stands on an issue.  But let’s try to do this respectfully – always working on really understanding what the other person meant before commenting ourselves – always addressing the issue rather than the person.  I thank you in advance for doing that.


3 Responses to “Winning the person or winning the battle?”

  1. September 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Mark said: “That my goal is not to win the battle, but to win the person”


  2. 2 rechtglaubig
    September 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    To Shematwater, Annemckee, Markcares, and anyone else reading this blog. I am sorry if anything I have said offended any of you. Forgive me.

  3. September 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I apologize if I have offended anyone individually on a personal basis. I do believe It is important to keep discussions focused on the issue rather than the person but I have at times focused on the person rather than the issue. Please forgive me also.

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September 2011

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