Difficult Case Witnessing

Q. How do you witness to friends whose unsaved parents have died? The thought of them suffering in hell turned them off so they won’t listen to the gospel.

A. The situation you described applies also to the surviving spouse whose husband or wife had passed away. They told me they would rather go to be with their spouse than to leave him/her to go to heaven. What would you say or do to help them?

First, I would console your friend. Witnessing is important, but so is timing. To give condolences and comfort your friend is important during his time of grief, or he won’t hear you.

Second, I would use the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:
Lk 16:27-28 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Even though the rich man ignored Lazarus’ plight during his lifetime, after he died he was concerned about his five brothers and wanted to warn them to repent so that they won’t end up like him. The deceased parent or spouse may not be pitiless like the rich man, but if they are unsaved and in agony, they would NOT want the same thing to happen to their surviving children or spouse. They would want them to be comforted in heaven, instead of joining him in suffering.

Besides, if your friend won’t listen and reject the gospel, his own children may be influenced to follow in his footsteps. So several generations may be affected by his foolishness. The past is gone and can’t be reversed. But he can affect the future by making a wise choice himself. So between comforting his emotions and appealing to his heart and will I would try to persuade him to commit to Christ. Hope this helps.

Blessing becomes Curse?

Proverbs 27 14 d

Q. What is the meaning of Prov 27:14 “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him”?

A. Blessing is a good thing, but can turn into a curse when it is done:
• with a loud voice i.e. in an inappropriate manner, &
• early in the morning i.e. at the wrong time.

The Amplified Bible expands the verse as:
He who blesses his neighbor with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse to him [for it will either be annoying or his purpose will be suspect].
The JFB Commentary has “excessive zeal in praising raises suspicions of selfishness.”

Both the manner and timing of a blessing, not just the content, are important. We need to watch not just what we say, but how and when we say it.