Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. - Saint Francis of Assisi
This is one of the most recognizable quotes attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, although it is likely a paraphrase of what he taught. If you heard it, it was likely presented in a context that gives it a different meaning than what was originally intended.
As Christians, we know that we have been called to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel, with those around us. This command is what made up Jesus' final words to the apostles before he ascended into heaven (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Although it is unequivocally the foundational mission of every Christian, it is probably one of the things many of us are most scared to do.
If you ask me to talk about the big game the previous night or a star quarterback's season stats, no problem. If you ask me what I think about current events and what action I recommend, I will how long do you have? If I asked you to actively seek out opportunities to sit down with people and share the message of the gospel, would your heart start beating a little faster and your palms get a little sweaty? Me too.
6 Excuses We Make for Not Sharing Our Faith
Let's be honest about this: we often feel awkward, incapable, ineffective, nervous, and shy when it comes to talking about Jesus with someone who isn't a Christian. Because of this, we begin to rationalize our thoughts and our actions in order to give us an excuse for not sharing the reason for the hope within us.
Some people have the gift of evangelism and I do not, so I will leave this calling to them.
I don't know the Bible well enough.
I'm not ready to respond to questions quickly; I need time to think.
I'm not good with words.
What if I say something wrong and forever turn someone away from Jesus?
I do evangelize. I just use my actions instead of words.
Confront Excuses and Be Bold in Faith
Okay, none of these excuses are valid. Don't know the Bible well enough? We can do something about that. Also, we don't need to be experts. If we know enough to make a decision to follow Jesus, we know enough to tell others about him.
Not quick with a response or good explaining things? Jesus repeatedly promised to be with us in this endeavor. The Holy Spirit will work in and through us with his power.
The last excuse sounds really good -- speak with actions -- however, it is completely false. We have taken the words of St. Assisi and manipulated the meaning to use them as an excuse. "I do evangelize! I use my actions. If my actions are right, then words won't be necessary."
But words are necessary! We are called to proclaim the gospel.
"How then will they 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?" (Romans 10:14 ESV).
Yes, our actions send a message and they do matter! No doubt, actions can lend credence to our witness for the gospel. Yet, they cannot stand on their own. Our actions cannot teach about man's sin problem and how Jesus came to save us. Our actions can show grace, but they can't teach where that grace originates from.
Equip Yourself to Share Your Reason for Hope
When we recognize excuses as excuses, we're ready to move on. If you don't feel ready or equipped, Berean has great resources, pastors, and people who can help you. We all care about people too deeply to not engage with them about our faith, and we can't assume someone else will speak the words for us.
Parents, don't let your kids fall for the lie that their actions are enough. There are a lot of kind people who are not Christians, so what will set them apart? Your kids need to hear you speak the truth of the gospel into their lives the lives of others.
Sharing our faith takes time and practice so we're ready when we have the opportunity. The good news is that God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us and to provide us with the power to do his will. Use your actions and remember that words are also always necessary.