Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Quote that Bugs Me

Over the last couple of weeks a quote from St. Francis of Assisi has come up time and time again:

"Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words."

Putting aside the fact that there is no real evidence that St. Francis ever actually spoke these words that were attributed to him by others long after his death, and putting aside the fact that he was a constantly preaching, and putting aside the fact that he was not shy when it came to speaking of sin, the need for repentance and faith I ask this question:  Is this advice biblical, or does it merely tickle the narcissistic ear?

Romans 10:14 tell us of our need to speak to the lost::   "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Are we to believe that the answer to this rhetorical question from Paul would be:   "Well Paul, people are going to observe my goodness,  and when they do they will repent and trust Jesus because they observed my goodness.  Did I mention that people saw my goodness?"

So many of us struggle finding the courage to open our mouths with the lost about their desperate need for a Savior, but are we really helped by this quote?  Are we encouraged to be bold witnesses for Christ by this quote? Or is it possible that the use of this quote could actually undermine a verse like Romans 10:14 by giving the impression that "speaking" about the things of God is of secondary importance. To borrow a line from Ray Comfort we would never say "feed the starving, and when necessary use food.’
Should people see Christ in us? Absolutely!  But that in no way relieves us of our obligation to open our mouths saying,  "if Christ can save a pitiful worm like me, He can save you too."

1 comment:

  1. You're absolutely correct! I think too many Christians rely on cute phrases like that one as a cheesy excuse to not actually share the gospel verbally with people. I wonder how many times Christians have grieved the Spirit by not opening our mouths when the timing was right and when His prompting was present.