Why You Shouldn’t “Preach the Gospel at All Times and Use Words When Necessary”
There’s a famous quote. You’ve probably heard it:
“Preach the gospel at all times. Use words only when necessary.”
The original quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It’s been echoed by generations of Christians.
The spirit of the quote is good, and it makes a good point. Our actions matter. What’s more: actions usually speak louder than words. People are watching what we do.
But there are some good reasons why this quote does not present a good approach in relating with others.
The first reason is that, in many cases, people use it as an excuse to avoid articulating their faith.
How many times has the gospel not been shared, because we’ve embraced a version of Christianity where words don’t matter?
The second reason is more important:
The Bible tells us that there are certain truths. Faith comes by hearing. And hearing by the word of God. Other people hear when someone declares the message.
You can love people, serve people, care for people and model a great life. Your actions will nudge people. They will create curiosity. They will open hearts to an interest in the gospel.
Others may even model your actions—and this is a good thing.
But there will come a moment when you will need to tell your story. When you will need to tell the story from start to finish: sin and redemption, death and resurrection—and why it matters.
You need to be equipped and prepared to tell the story and articulate your faith.
The truth is that no matter how much we try to live in a way that reveals the presence of Jesus, words will still be needed. At some point along the way, everyone needs to hear and comprehend the content of the gospel.
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The above post was adapted from material in the Organic Outreach online course, taught by Kevin Harney.
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