GIVING GOD SOMETHING TO WORK WITH
Several years ago, I was sitting in a Christian counselor’s office, sharing about the frustration and guilt I was experiencing because there were people in my life who had not come to Christ despite years of intercession on my part. Without saying it out loud, my internal thought process was, “If I just pray longer and harder…if I just fast more intensely…then they would be saved. I’m not doing enough.”
His response to me was simple, yet profound. He said, “Dustin, I think your problem is that you have trouble defining the distinction between your role and God’s role in certain areas of your life.” This revelation was liberating for me. I needed to realize that the salvation of other people did not depend solely on my own efforts. And the principle that he shared with me—that my responsibility before God was to simply do my part and leave the rest in His hands—has often helped me over the years. It has taught me not blame myself for a lack of results in a given situation if I was faithful to do what the Lord asked me to do.
I have found this principle especially helpful in trying to live an evangelistic lifestyle. Too often, we tend to get confused at the role that we play when it comes to sharing the Gospel. We put too much emphasis on saying the right words or using the right formulas. We think that if we can just present a perfect Gospel presentation and answer all the other person’s questions, then they are sure to get saved. Many times—when we encounter people—we place all our attention and energy in our method or approach. But the problem with this kind of thinking is that it puts far too much stock in our own efforts.
I like to compare evangelism to an electrical conductor. A conductor is a material that allows electricity to flow through it. The conductor does not actual accomplish anything. It cannot light a lamp or give a microwave the power it needs to cook food. When you hit a light switch and your bedroom is illuminated, the conductor deserves almost none of the credit. The only part it played was in allowing the electrical current to flow through and do its job.When it comes to evangelism, it can be helpful to view ourselves as nothing more than conductors for the Holy Spirit to flow through. Click To Tweet
When it comes to evangelism, it can be helpful to view ourselves as nothing more than conductors for the Holy Spirit to flow through. He is the only one who can accomplish the work. The truth is that we cannot save anyone. There is nothing in us that can cause a person to be born again. People are not brought to repentance simply by receiving information; it is a work of the Holy Spirit. If the salvation of souls depended on the ability of men and women, no one would ever enter the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, when I find myself striving too hard in evangelism, I have to remind myself, “I am not the Holy Spirit. I can’t save anyone. I’m simply here to be a conductor for the Lord to reach people with the Gospel.”
This is not to say that we play no role at all; quite the contrary. But we should not concentrate on our ability to persuade, recite a script or present a logical argument. Instead, we should focus our energy on giving God something to work with as we engage others with the Gospel.
When you shift your perspective in this way, it can help to relieve some of the natural pressure that we feel when sharing the Gospel. Of course, all of us want to see the fruit of our labor. And there are those moments when you can tell that God is really moving on someone’s heart. We all love those divine appointments. But the reality of evangeLIVING is that there are many not-so-exciting encounters that occur in-between those God moments. When we have those encounters with people that do not seem to accomplish anything in the natural, we can rest assured that we have fulfilled our responsibility if we have given the Lord something to work with in another person’s life.
I spoke with someone the other day who was sharing with me an experience she had trying to share the Gospel with someone. She confessed, “I just kept stumbling over my words and it never seems to come out right.” My response was two-fold. First, I reassured her that we all experience the same thing. How many times have I walked away from an encounter with someone and in retrospect thought of all the things that I wish I had said? It is just par for the course. But second, I encouraged her with the fact that she gave God something to work with. That was her only responsibility and she had done it by sharing the Gospel in the best way she could.
Think about it in light of this illustration. Let us suppose that you want to construct a house. So, you find someone to develop the blueprints and you purchase an empty lot. Then you hire a contractor, take him out to the property and say, “Well, here are the plans for the house, and here is the location for it. Build me this house.” If you walk away and do not give him any resources in order to purchase the supplies that house construction requires, you have given him an impossible task. He has nothing to work with! In order to accomplish the plan, the resources necessary must be available.
God has a plan to reach people with the Gospel and change their lives. The way He often accomplishes this is through people having an encounter with Him through His Word and through His people. Sometimes, we pray for people in our lives to come to Christ. We say, “Lord, save my family. Let my neighbors come to saving faith in you. Let souls be saved in our community!” And the Lord says, “I want these things to happen more than you do. Just give me something to work with and I will do the rest.”God has a plan to reach people with the Gospel and change their lives. Click To Tweet
He already told us to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) This is our part of the equation. This is how we give the Lord something to work with in the lives of those we come into contact with and allow Him to do what He does best. So, let us focus on doing what we can do and leaving the rest in His hands.
Here are a few practical ways to give God something to work with in the lives of other people:
-Praying for someone
-Giving someone a Bible or Gospel-centered literature
-Sharing a testimony
-Inviting a friend to church
-Doing an act of kindness in Jesus’ Name
What other things can you think of that give God something to work with in other people’s lives? Leave them in the comments below.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.