As we think about sharing the gospel with those around us, there are some questions I believe we need to ask ourselves.
1. Do we realize how much WE need the gospel?
We are prone to look at those around us, especially those who are not as moral as us, and are quick to say, “He/she really needs Jesus!” Now I’m not saying they don’t, I’m just wanting us to realize that we still need Christ just as much as the person we would consider the vilest of sinners. We have not graduated beyond the gospel ourselves.
Peter writes that we should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Therefore, we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily for it is the gospel of grace that develops within us “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is the gospel that causes us “to count others more significant” than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3). And, when it comes to sharing our faith, it is the gospel, the message of the cross, that develops in us an attitude of humility instead of judgment.
I realize I’ve written quite a bit on us grasping our own need for Christ, but I think everything hinges on this realization. We cannot develop a servant’s heart and become one who listens to, cares for, and helps others without the gospel doing its work in our lives.
2. Are we interested in others?
Being interested in others cuts across the grain of our me-centered culture. I’m amazed at my tendency to make everything about me. This is why I need the gospel.
We should be fascinated by the stories and lives of others. There is not a boring person on the planet. All are created in the image of God. We just don’t take the time to understand and listen.
Can I offer a practical tip here? I think cell phones can be a distraction to showing interest in others. My phone is a great example. It beeps, honks, and rings at me when I get emails, texts, and calls. Can I encourage you (and me) to turn the thing off when talking with others? What does it say about our interest in others when we stop a conversation to answer a text?
3. Do we listen more than we speak?
Sharing the gospel with those around us is a dialogue and not a monologue. In other words, it’s a conversation over coffee. So learn to ask good questions. And listen, listen, listen. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Could it be that the greatest need of some is to find someone to listen?
4. Are we helpful?
When I think of being helpful, I am really thinking about helping others in what some might call “trivial” things. I think most of us do well in jumping in to to help those who are going through a major crisis, but what about when your co-worker is having a rough morning because he/she woke up late and didn’t get his/her normal cup of coffee? I guess it boils down to really learn to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31).
5. Are we praying?
I know we know to pray! But moving from knowledge to praxis can be a journey of many miles. One thing that affects our praying is the fact that we live in an impatient society. We have fast-food restaurants, high-speed Internet, and on-demand movies. We are not conditioned to wait for anything. When we pray and nothing appears to happen, what do we do? Let us not give up!