THE SOWING AND REAPING PRINCIPLE
Evangelism… Just that word makes many of us nervous. It conjures up memories of when we stuck our necks out in faith and tried to share the Gospel with someone, but they rejected it. It brings to mind the many awkward conversations that we have walked away from and thought, “Why did I even bother trying?” It does not take too many of these types of situations for some believers to conclude that evangelism is just not for them. So they stop reaching out.
I have been in that place many times personally. What often happens in evangelism is that our expectations do not line up with our experience, so we get discouraged and want to give up. I have been to evangelism trainings and been a part of many types of evangelistic efforts. And sometimes, we go into these experiences with an expectation that everyone we bump into is going to be so excited to hear what we have to share that they will hang on to every word we say. We expect to see everyone in the city get radically saved.
And then we approach the first person and do our best to minister to them, and nothing seems to happen. And the wind gets let out of our sails a little bit. Depending on the culture of the group you are with, there might even be a lot of pressure to see results. You meet back up with the other teams and they immediately ask, “How many people got saved?” Perhaps others have some amazing stories to share, and leave you thinking, “I guess I’m not called to do this.”
There was a time in my life when I would feel incredibly ashamed if I spent time sharing the Gospel, and no one prayed with me to receive Christ. There was almost a temptation to lie to cover up for the fact that I saw no tangible results. But something happened in my perspective of evangelism that set me free from this results-driven mentality. It completely changed my viewpoint about all of the encounters that felt like a waste of time. And that was a principle that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 3.Something happened in my perspective of evangelism that set me free from a results-driven mentality. It completely changed my viewpoint about all of the encounters that felt like a waste of time. Click To Tweet
At the time of Paul’s writing, the Corinthian church was dealing with division. One aspect of that involved their leadership. Basically, the church was breaking into cliques based on who had originally shared the Gospel with them when they came to Christ. So there was a group of people who claimed to follow Paul, another who followed Peter, and a third who followed Apollos. In order to address the issue, Paul wrote them the following words:
“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
In this passage, we find a principle that erased the pressure and need to see immediate results that was once such a stumbling block for me in evangelism. Paul explains the process by using agricultural terms that any of us can understand. He explains the Gospel as a seed. There is a process that must take place in order for a seed to germinate. First, the seed must be planted in the ground. Then, it needs to be watered. And finally, the harvest comes.
All of us have the desire to see the harvest. We all want to be a part of seeing someone truly repent and surrender their life to Christ. Of course, that is the most exciting part about sharing the Gospel. But, if you view the harvest as the only valuable part of evangelism, you will be very disappointed when you have an encounter with someone, and you do not see an immediate desire to be saved. In fact, too many of these in a row and you will start coming up with reasons why evangelism is not for you.If you view the harvest as the only valuable part of evangelism, you will be very disappointed when you have an encounter with someone, and you do not see an immediate desire to be saved. Click To Tweet
But if you realize that there are other aspects of the process that are equally important, even if not as exciting, you will begin to see value in every encounter you have, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
I walked into a glass store the other day to buy a product for my home church. I struck up a conversation with the man behind the counter, just asking him about how his business has fared through the pandemic. He confessed to me that his business had not suffered, but the only big change for him was that the bars were closing early. As I was heading out, he said, “You’ve got to get drunk earlier these days if you are going to get drunk.” I responded, “I don’t do that anymore. Jesus set me free from that. In fact, I used to be a drug addict, and He changed my life.” I was almost to the front door when he commented, “Quite a turn around.” I said, “Man, Jesus can do it.”
As I walked back to my car, rather than feeling disappointed that we did not have a long conversation leading to his conversion, I was encouraged to plant a seed in this man’s heart. I told him what church I was from and I will be looking for an excuse to see him again as well as praying for him. But sharing the Gospel is both the big picture moments when people come into the Kingdom and the smaller seeds you plant when you go throughout your day.
When I realized that my job was simply to be a seed-planter or seed-waterer, and to make sure that I’m prepared for the harvest if it came- it made sharing the Gospel such a joy. Suddenly, I could walk away from even the most belligerent or uninterested person and not feel like it was a waste. Want to grow in evangeLIVING? Grab your seed packets and your watering can and go share the love of Jesus with those you come in contact with! It is never a waste of time.
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.