[Editor’s note: Last Sunday evening’s lesson was received well, and the article from which the lesson was inspired is now submitted to you.]
Life can, at times, be awkward. Most of us have probably been in situations where we have felt uncomfortable or embarrassed by the action of another or even ourselves. Many of those times it may be over something so trivial that everyone laughs it off and someone says, “Well, that was awkward.” In this article I would like to suggest the possibility of Satan using our sense of awkwardness to further his cause. While the word “awkward” is not found in the Bible, Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and as we will see in this article, awkwardness may just be one of Satan’s wiles (Ephesians 6:11). Take note of two examples.
Awkwardness in Relationships
Generally speaking, things are most awkward when a relationship between two parties exists as opposed to when two parties know nothing of each other. For example, would I be embarrassed if I tripped and fell on my face in front of a complete stranger? Certainly, but I would feel even more awkward if I were to trip and fall on my face in front of someone I know because a relationship is present and there is the possibility of having to interact with this person again as opposed to a stranger whom I would likely never see again. In other words, the more you are acquainted with somebody the more probable it is that an ungraceful situation could unfold.
Having illustrated that awkwardness grows with a relationship, is it possible we ever shy away from a problem because of the potential for awkwardness and thus a strained relationship? For example, have you ever seen a brother or sister with sin in their life but decide to forego your Christian responsibility (Galatians 6:1) because you are certain that addressing the issue would be awkward and could cause you to lose that friendship?
The scene we read of in Galatians 2:11-14 must have been incredibly awkward for all parties involved. If we think it is awkward to talk with our brethren who are involved in sin, how do you suppose Paul was feeling as he was rebuking one of Jesus’ original and closest disciples? It could not have been easy to reveal Peter’s hypocrisy to his face and to those who were around, but the awkwardness did not prevent Paul from showing love to his erring brother. Had Paul allowed the uneasiness of the situation to stop him from speaking it is possible that Peter and Barnabas could have dragged more away with them. Let’s thank God for men such as Paul, and let’s pray for the courage to overcome awkwardness by boldly yet lovingly speaking to others. Awkwardness in talking to others concerning their sin will pass; eternal death will not.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death a cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19, 20).
Awkwardness in Evangelism
All of us should want to teach others about the grace God has extended to all mankind. I believe the “golden rule” (Matthew 7:12) is a great principle for why we should reach out to the lost. Personal evangelism is something all of us should be involved in, and there are many different (and useful) ways to evangelize. Knocking on doors, handing out business cards, talking to neighbors and co-workers, sharing thought-provoking material on the World Wide Web, etc., are all wonderful ways to spread the good news.
However, do we every shy away from telling someone about Jesus’ life and death because of the potential for awkwardness? Anytime we reveal or share part of ourselves with someone, there is a potential for people to humiliate, mock, scoff, or ridicule us and our beliefs, and personal evangelism only maximizes those opportunities. Chatting with others regarding spiritual topics is not always easy to do especially when Satan can use our sense of awkwardness against us, but it is something we should want to do and must do.
From time to time we sing the hymn You Never Mentioned Him To Me. This hymn gives us an interesting perspective and leaves us with an important question: Are we telling sinners about the mercy and grace of God? It would be very awkward (and incredibly sad) to know we could have helped a sinner enter into a relationship with his Creator, but instead did not speak up because of the awkwardness it may have caused.
How do we overcome awkwardness? The answer is not to avoid relationships where we run the risk of having to confront others with their sin nor is the answer in avoiding spreading the Gospel that saves people from their sin. What is the solution then? We must first realize that it is a clever tactic Satan uses to get us not to act when we should. It can be a big temptation for some more than others but it can be overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). Secondly, a genuine love for the souls of people will aid us in overcoming the awkwardness we feel in relationships and evangelism. For if we care for the souls of those around us we will speak despite the potential of losing a friendship or being ridiculed. May God help us all overcome!