Let’s define an “outsider” as anyone who doesn’t believe what you believe. To keep those people outside, then all you have to do is make them feel as though you’re better than them by judging their belief as wrong. If your aim is to keep them outside, then it’s very easy to do. Simply judge them.
However, if your aim is to make them an “insider”, i.e. someone who sees things as you see them because they have a genuine change of heart, then you must learn to “walk properly” with outsiders so that you will be “well thought of” by them. That is the only way to gain influence so that a change of heart is possible.
To that end, what are the means? What does “walking properly” look like?
First, you must walk in wisdom. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person. Second, walk with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile you may be put to shame. Lastly, carefully choose your words, possess a kind demeanor and live your life serving others for their benefit so that they can experience genuine love and goodness.
By doing this, you will be representing yourself and your beliefs well, thereby exposing the outsiders to them. In time, you will become well thought of by the outsiders. Hopefully, so much so they’ll wonder why and how you’re able to do it. That’s your opening to testify and influence them to have a change of heart to believe what you believe.
Now, there are certainly snares along the way. You could succumb to temptation that brings disgrace to yourself and your reputation. Such traps are plentiful and there are those who would love to see you fall. If it happens, you lose all credibility and the ability to influence the outsiders. These self-harming decisions only serve to solidify the outsiders’ unbelief.
I’m a God-fearing person and believe He exists. Outsiders, i.e. non-believers, matter to me because they matter to God. Therefore, I want to walk property with them. I delight to make outsiders into friends, brothers and sisters so that I may be well thought of by them so they may see God’s glory. I am very sensitive to falling into the traps that hurt the cause, and Lord knows I have stumbled. Nonetheless, I am driven by faith and working hard for Him.
These two things, faith in God and working hard for Him, are what give me peace. It takes the pressure off of me. It doesn’t mean I will succeed all the time, but it does mean even if I don’t succeed, there is a bigger plan and God is ultimately in control of everything happening in my life. When I focus on working hard, I can rest easy knowing I did my best and trust God with the results. I’m not the smartest, nor the most talented, but God gave me a good work ethic. I rely on grit. No one is going to out work me.
Imagine if more “insiders” took this posture with outsiders. Focus on working hard, walking properly and trusting God is present in all interactions and circumstances. There’s be less ugly judgmental self-righteousness and more genuinely humble neighborly love.