2000-11-22 - Personal Evangelism
2 Corinthians 5:16 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
I was reminded this week by your letters, and from personal experience, of one of the greatest caveats about personal evangelism. I pray that this devotional will help you understand these traps that can discourage you from doing your part in advancing the cause of Christ in your arena.
A few years ago, a man in our church had the spiritual gift of evangelism. He was effective in door-to-door campaigns of witnessing. He never missed an opportunity to tell anyone willing to listen, the sensational news about Jesus Christ. He was bold and effective with some people, but not with everyone. I will never forget what he shared with me one day after a Bible study, in the parking lot of our church. With tears in his eyes and great frustration, he told me that his mother-in-law simply would not listen to the Gospel. She would not change. Over and over again, he kept saying, "I can't get her to change."
Some of your letters this past week expressed the same frustration with friends and family members. You are exhausted from trying to get people to change. Frustrated spouses go to church alone, while their mates sit at home waiting for them to return, so they can berate them or scoff at their church attendance. Family members, coworkers, acquaintances and classmates sigh and walk away, when you try to share what Christ means to you. You walk away feeling defeated and deflated.
My friend in the parking lot gave up on church. I know of spouses and family members that give up on Christ. They are falling into a terrible trap that the great deceiver has lain out for them.
1 Samuel 10:6 (NIV) The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
Don't miss the point of the above verses. You are not the change agent for a person's heart. Only through the Holy Spirit are hearts changed. Please don't overestimate your own power, and for Heaven's sake, do not underestimate God's power. We are only the communication agent. God is the change agent. He is the catalyst. I read a recent study that said that on average, a person hears the Gospel seven times before responding to the message. Your time of sharing may be Number One, Number Five or sometimes Number Seven. Keep planting the seeds - tell the story once, but then let your life show it.
Father - forgive us when we overestimate our power and underestimate Yours. Help us to be content with planting seeds and letting You water them. Thank You so much for giving us the free gift of eternal life through Your Son Jesus, who paid for it all in full. In His name, Amen.