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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This Little Light of Mine


Toby's favorite song lately is "This Little Light of Mine." Our church is teaching evangelism right now, so we have been thinking about telling others about the gospel of God. Coincidentally, my Bible reading in my "coffee with the Lord" has taken me to I Thessalonians. The first two chapters of this book are packed with principles that guide us in evangelism:

Paul shared boldly in the midst of conflict (2:2). Paul's time in Thessalonica was marked by conflict (see Acts 17). Opposition should not leave us silent.

Paul acted to please God, who tests our hearts, not to please men (2:4). We must be so close to Jesus that we are motivated to please Him, not others. We don't share the gospel to win points with fellow church members or gain personal glory for our faithfulness. We must do it to please God. He tests our hearts and knows our motives.

Paul did not flatter his listeners, nor was he greedy (2:5). Because we know that the word of God can be offensive (Jeremiah 6:10) and, to the perishing, a smell of death (2 Cor. 2:16), we sometimes try to smooth things over a bit and make it easier on the ears. Paul never softened the message or obscured the truth.

Paul was gentle and affectionately desired the Thessalonians to be saved (2:7-8). We can demonstrate gentleness and affection for others without softening the message of the gospel. Indeed, we will want those we care about to be a part of God's kingdom.

Paul was ready to share the gospel (2:8). Well, of course he was, right? He was Paul. But what about you? Are you ready? We need to know the Scriptures and be confident in them. Recently I read G.K. Chesterton say in his book Orthodoxy that real humility is doubting ourselves, but not doubting the truth. So be confident in the truth of the gospel as you present it and never apologize for it. That is not humility. Humility is born in knowing that it is only by God's grace that you are redeemed! 

Paul shared not just the gospel, but he shared himself, and the Thessalonians, whom he just met, became dear to him (2:8). I find that the best way to care deeply about people is to pray for them.

The Thessalonians who believed did so because they were chosen by God (1:4). We can take no credit in the belief of others, but we can rejoice to be used by God in communicating His salvation. 

The Thessalonians who believed did so because the gospel came in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction (1:5). It is God who works to bring conviction in the heart of our listeners. But, we also need to be sure that we are sharing in His strength and direction and not in our own meagerness.

The Thessalonians turned from idolatry to believe in Christ (1:9). We shouldn't pre-judge the likelihood that our listeners will believe. Whatever the current belief system of our listener, we must be confident that the living and true God (1:9) that we serve is more powerful than the impotent idols (whatever that may be) of our listeners.

The Thessalonians, new in their faith, patterned themselves after Paul (1:6). Are we living holy lives that are worth imitating?

Engraving of St. Paul preaching to the Thessalonians by Gustave Dore, 1865, found on www.biblical-art.com.

3 comments:

Laura said...

Great post! This statement is so convicting to me, "We shouldn't pre-judge the likelihood that our listeners will believe." I so often am discouraged by what I know to be a person's leanings. Thank you for a reminder of the power of the living God! Amen to that.

Mrs. Edwards said...

Isn't it something how we tell ourselves that people will dismiss the gospel, so we don't even share it? I am struggling with this right now and these verses are serving as a pep rally for my soul.

Thanks for commenting, Laura!

Sharon said...

We're using that song in our talk tomorrow!

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