“…If Necessary, Use Words”

I believe we have all heard the quote, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”  In fact, I believe in my rookie years in the ministry, I probably used the phrase myself.  But over the last couple years, I’ve grown to have a large distaste for this phrase.  When I first heard it, I thought it was a fresh outlook on being kept accountable for living a good Christian life.

Then I heard a story that I’d love to relay here:

This is a story of man who was a good employee at his job.  He tried to generally be a good person, obey his authorities, and work hard.  One weekend this employee went to a church retreat, heard the Gospel, and was saved.  He realized that he couldn’t, through his own efforts, be a good person in God’s eyes.

When he got back to his job, he knew he needed to witness to his boss.  He found this to be incredibly difficult and continually found excuses not to.  Finally, the day came when he gathered the courage to do so, and his boss’ reaction was not what he was expecting.  His boss responded with glee!  His boss said, “I’m so glad you’ve gotten saved!  I’ve been praying for you for so long!  And I keep trying to live a good Christian life as an example for you to follow.”  The employee was shocked!  He responded to his boss saying, “You’ve been a Christian this whole time?!  You were one of the reasons why I didn’t think I needed to be saved.  I saw the way you lived your life and thought that I could be a good person a part from God!”

The fact is, it isn’t enough to live a life that preaches the Gospel without actually preaching the Gospel.  I believe the phrase “and if necessary, use words” has become a cop-out for people who think they are not able to preach the Gospel.  Romans 10:14-15 says,

“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”

Contemporary Christianity is becoming very concerned with acting like true Christians and helping people where they need help.  Praise God it is that way, but unfortunately, the actual preaching of the Gospel, verbally, has largely been abandoned in a time of relative truth and political correctness.  People are more likely to not get caught up in ‘theological differences’ or ‘negative topics’ in the Bible.  Unfortunately, too many people would rather let their actions speak for themselves, rather then letting their words speak for themselves with their actions backing up their words.  Which is more biblical?

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