A good friend of mine commented privately about the previous devotional, asking about how to find the balance between sharing your faith without being pushy in doing so. Some Christians would say that we’re talking about eternity here, so being pushy is acceptable. Only it’s not, because then the messenger obscures the message.
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:12, NASB
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:8-9, NASB
Peter is very clear that our behavior should be above reproach. So if we are ramrodding the message of the Cross down someone’s throat, we aren’t honoring what we’ve been commanded to do. Our behavior is far from excellent and we aren’t trying to be harmonious, kindhearted, or brotherly. But we still have a mandate to share our faith. If we truly believe that without Christ there is no salvation, it is imperative that we tell those people in our lives who have not accepted His gift of grace what He offers them. Otherwise, we are allowing them to take a path towards Hell without intervening. And that isn’t exactly brotherly, sympathetic, or kindhearted, either. So how do we share without being obnoxious? How do we tell the Gospel message without force-feeding someone what we believe?
First, we’ve got to live what we say we believe. I know that sounds like I’m taking the easy road, but that’s what 1 Peter 2:12 indicates. Then there’s this famous passage:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16, NASB
Our actions should reflect positively on Christ. And that will draw the people that God calls. But going beyond that, what about actually telling folks about the Gospel? We look for the right moment. We ask God for the right moment. And we do that through prayer:
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; – Colossians 4:2-3, NASB
And God will bring those moments. After all, didn’t He do this?
But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” – Acts 8:26-29, NASB
Now likely we won’t hear as clearly as Philip did. But if we are living for Christ, folks will see our good deeds, our humble and selfless attitude, and our genuine love for them. If we’re praying for God to open up the doors and if we’re truly trying to follow our Savior, we’ll get a sense of when it might be right to talk to someone. Even if we are wrong, if are motives and actions are pure and the person knows this about us (because we’ve been following that command to keep our behavior excellent), it it likely the other person will understand and gracefully stop us. After all, they’ll know we care about them and want the best for them. And if we’ve guessed wrong, we fall back to praying and looking for that open door. Because if this is a person God is calling to Himself, the door will be there and it will open for us if we’re the ones God wants to use to reach that person.