In telling me about his conversion, our brother, Alan Putnam, told me some words that were spoken to him before committing His life to Christ. He was told, “Christianity is a THINKING religion.” Ever since I heard these words, I have been greatly impacted by them. I remember them almost daily, and here is why. As Christians, we are to THINK about what the Word is saying. We have to THINK about whether or not our actions are consistent with the gospel, and friends, when it comes to evangelism, we have to THINK about how we do it.
In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Here, our Lord is giving us an evangelistic strategy for success. The serpent is a picture for wisdom, and the dove is a picture of harmlessness and innocence. On the one hand, evangelistic wisdom means to be educated Christians who evaluate prospects. On the other hand, evangelistic innocence means to be harmless in contacts. In other words, we have to THINK about how we can be wise and harmless in our evangelism.
Here are a couple of principles to think about and practice:
Defer; don’t debate. Until we become more interested in winning the soul than winning the argument, we will never become like the Lord. Wisdom teaches us to weigh our answer in light of the prospect’s ability to digest (John 16:12). We cannot feed steak to a baby; we begin with the milk of the Word and allow them time to grow (1 Peter 2:2).
Show; don’t tell. Deferring is not the end; it is a way to get a person to a point when a study can begin. Our goal is to OPEN the Bible and allow the Word of God to be the converting power (Psalm 19:7; Luke 10:25-26). In addition, it is good to READ the Word of God, but it is better to have them read it THEMSELVES.