A common question I get during the summer season when I stop at my favorite ice cream places and ask for a chocolate cone is "Hard or soft?" I always opt for the soft and add colored sprinkles. It's been that way for almost 50 years.
My dear wife Faith, of nearly 28 years now, and I have a running dialog (sometimes soft and sometimes hard) about the nature of God and the best approach to winning people to Jesus. I have always opted for the soft, while she leans to the hard approach.
While the discussion has gotten heated at times, we have learned to appreciate our differences and recognize God has used both approaches through the centuries to accomplish His goals and build His church. Her approach is from the prophetic motivation (black and white), while mine is more of a teaching and serving gift (grayscale).
Recently I posted an Alexander Maclaren quote as my Twitter update, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” Her response on Facebook was atypical "Jer. 4:3, "Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns" & verse 4 is even heavier. Sometimes a hammer is needed. I was hammered & I praise God 4 it or I would never have been saved......."
My retort was "I agree Babe, but it's the Lord's hammer, not mine. I welcome the Lord's hammer! His word is a hammer. I will extend my hand to the poor, and love my neighbor as myself, and like Jesus I come to serve and "go about doing good." All this while walking in the Spirit and loving God with all my heart. All in hopes that the Lord would use it to melt hard hearts. Romans 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
and so it goes...
I have seen God use my wife in some incredible ways to reach people that I never could with her strong words without compromise. At the same time, she sees the impact my teaching and serving heart have had in my efforts to exemplify the ways of my Lord.
Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
How has God used you, which way do you lean hard or soft?