Not Just What You Say but How You Say it as well…

“It not only matters what you say but how you say it.” One of my heroes of the faith made this comment at a dinner that I attended. This really stuck with me due to my tendency to be sarcastic. I need to constantly check my methods, because I do not want to make the gospel more abrasive than it naturally is to a lost person.
2 Corinthians 6 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.(emphasis added)
The Apostle Paul went out of his way to keep from being an obstacle to the Corinthian’s salvation. Therefore it is reasonable for me to do the same. The first and foremost thing is to make sure that I am speaking truth. Is what I am saying my opinion, or is it what God’s word says? The next and very important thing is: Am I speaking in love? I believe there are times when it is ok to speak sharply to people, but it should not be the norm. For instance, if I am trying to converse with someone who repeatedly slings out obscene statements about God I may sling a sharp rebuke or remark to that person. I do this for a couple of reasons. First I am trying to get their attention and they may not expect the street preacher to lash out at them so my hope is that it will shock them out of their bantering. Secondly if they are so flippant about their sin I fear for their soul and want to do everything I can to get them to realize that they will stand before God in judgment and have to give an account for their lives. I will give an example. Once a young man walked by as we were passing out gospel tracts. After he passed by he turned and yelled “I Hate Jesus!”. I yelled back, “I know!, It’s obvious!”. He stopped, turned around and said “What?!” So I repeated what I said. Some would say that I should not have said that, and maybe I was in error, but at least it made him stop for a second and think about it. On the other hand if I stand out on the street and yell “It’s obvious you hate Jesus!” to everyone that walks by, I think I would be going out of my way to be offensive. Therefore I must always speak in love. It is possible to speak the truth in the wrong way and be in error.
Another danger is that I may put myself on a pedestal because I am on the front lines while others do little or nothing to get the gospel to the lost. At one point in life I struggled with Christians that didn’t share their faith. I even got to the point where I started thinking that they weren’t even truly Born Again because they never witnessed to anyone. After all C.H. Spurgeon did say that if you do not desire to see others saved then you are not saved yourself. (Loose paraphrase). We must remember that even though C.H. Spurgeon was a great man of God and a wonderful preacher, he is not God and this is not scripture. While you would think that a true Christian would desire to see others saved, we cannot pass judgment and declare them all heathens. Many want to share but struggle with fear. Others do not have a clue how to do it due to lack of training in the church as a whole. I prayed about this for a long time and God changed my heart. While I still get frustrated with Christians that do not share their faith, my attitude has changed from one of self-righteousness to one of “What can I do to encourage them and help them be equipped to share”.
While doing evangelism on the street is a very humbling experience there are still dangers of becoming self righteous and arrogant. After continuous abuse and heckling one may tend to get hardened and lose compassion for the lost. We may start to think that all of these people are going to hell and they deserve it. This attitude can change our preaching attitude from one of love and compassion to an attitude of Judgment and condemnation. We must remember that Jesus is the Judge and Jesus does the condemning and the saving.
Preach On!
…until all hear!
Alex

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3 thoughts on “Not Just What You Say but How You Say it as well…

  1. It is a good thing for all of us to check our methods, re-check our sources and pray on each and every word we share with others. Remember too that not all Christians have the gift for evangelism. In my case my gift is the ability to reach out to people in need and to use the Word to boost people up and show them there is hope. If the opportunity presents itself and the Lord sees fit to use me to lead someone to Him then it happens. As long as I have known Alex his passion has been for spreading the gospel message. He is my “John the Baptist” of the 21st century and I admire him for that. It takes a special gift to do what he does just as it takes a gift to do what I do and what my ministry team does. What matters is that we all serve in truth to the Word of God and what we teach others. We teach Biblical truth not opinion. The Bible is the definitive Word and the final authority.
    God bless preach on ministries and Pastor Alex Burt for his love. A love that drives him to do what he does, until all hear.

  2. Been there as well. I pray that God will give me a love for the lost so that when I hear their rejection I would feel a sense of remorse over how hard their heart is, but rejoyce in the fact that God can chage their heart and maybe it starta with something I just read or said.

    He did it for me.

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