Everyone preaches the gospel that lives in their hearts. If your heart sings in the key of grace, your words and actions ring with kindness, mercy, benevolence, and forgiveness. When preaching anything, the loudest testimony is behavior, not sophisticated vocabulary or passionate debate.
Hearts wrapped in the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit preach Jesus. The tone of one’s voice often carries the greatest power and truth. Is it peaceful or strident? Confident or questioning? Open and expansive or clipped and tight?
HORSES TEACH YOU TO WALK YOUR TALK
One of the greatest lessons I learned from horses is BEING who I say I am. Words aren’t necessary when your spirit, action, and concern for your horse hum the same melody. Horses respond well to pretty words as long as the corresponding touch, tone, and heart are balanced and beautiful.
Horses understand that inconsistency can be a discordant note of warning. Consistency is gospel to horses and children. If you’re always swinging from hot to cold, agitated to clam, or patient to annoyed, the odds of earning your horse’s trust are slim to none.
THE MINISTRY NEAREST
Preaching and ministry go together. What we believe in our hearts we preach. Our ministry is the sum of whatever we do today. Once my husband and I left an official ministry we took up the Ministry Nearest.
Whatever needs doing this minute, do it. That’s the essence of the Ministry Nearest. Spoiler alert: It’s seldom glamorous.
For example, there are times when the mountain between the sink and the dishwasher seems impossible to climb. I’ve noticed it in my own home. Dirty dishes and used coffee cups somehow make it to the sink but can’t stretch the extra 18 inches to the dishwasher.
One morning a few years ago, after pondering the concept of Ministry Nearest, I noticed a dish and cup in the sink I didn’t use. My thought habit would normally be, “What’s so hard about putting these IN the dishwasher?” – and sometimes leaving them there for the dish fairy.
RESPOND WITH ACTION
Instead, I stifled the judgmental part of me, recognized a task at hand and responded. Rather than entertain disapproving emotions, my hands joyfully picked up the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. Done. In thirty seconds.
I didn’t feel like I’d gone above and beyond what I should have to do, but that I did the minimum required by the Ministry Nearest. I felt surprisingly light of spirit and content. I believe I caught God smiling.
How many times has someone done me a small service that went unnoticed?
Why shouldn’t I respond? What makes me so special that I should see a need and walk on by? There aren’t any children in our house who need lessons on responsibility. The only bipeds who live here have wrinkles.
Putting on Christ’…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all. – C.S. Lewis
WHEN “WHY” IS THE WRONG QUESTION
Too often we’re led to spend time and energy examining the question “Why” something is rather than responding or resolving it. I gotta plead guilty there, but that all-too-normal response feeds negative emotion rather than positive action. When the love we feel for someone is dusted with annoyance, no one wins.
Sometimes we’re right to wonder “why” someone does or doesn’t do something. More often than not, I’ve wondered the same about myself. So did the Apostle Paul. If this sounds familiar, you’re in excellent company.
Unless the answer to “why” is necessary to identify the correct response to a problem, it’s seldom the right question. A better one is, “How can I help?”
PREACH WITH POWER
Words are the LEAST effective way to share the gospel of Christ. The most powerful preaching isn’t what you say, but what you do and who you are. Love is a verb; active and powerful.
Love either affirms your value just the way you are, or encourages you to BE better because it knows you ARE better.
Love is a blanket of goodness; even when it scratches your pride.
Love wraps you up and promises to never let you go – unless you insist.
Arms of love envelop; they never entrap. (I just heard an Amen from somewhere.)
Love waits without angst and prays for your return. “… and the greatest of these is love.”
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi
THE SILENT GOSPEL
Evangelism isn’t a monolith of words, but a message composed of our behavior, humility, kindness, and concern for others. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to be like Him; unflappable, selfless, and more concerned about the rights of others than our own.
Until you’re asked, preach the gospel without words. Your message will be powerful, rare, and God will notice. Perhaps you’ll catch Him smile, too.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15
A portion of this post was originally published as the June 2019 LynnBaber.com Newsletter. Sign up!
Related post: Great Listeners Make More Effective Teachers and Preachers
Why are we the way we are? Why is the world the way it is?
The answers in Fifteen Minutes into Eternity – The War Between the Human Spirit and the Holy Spirit.
Excellent. Hit me right where I needed it.
Me, too, Liz. I finished this post this morning and have to refer to it myself this evening.
Be greatly blessed! Lynn
Thank you! I’ve never been good at face to face witnessing. But doing is a different story. I don’t like to procrastinate. If I tell you I’ll do it I set about to do just that. I don’t have a lot on my agenda just for that reason. It seems like though some people want to monopolize my time with unimportant ‘things’. After walking with Christ I now have the strength and courage to say no when it’s not good for me. If only other people would seek Christ and follow Him instead of trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. My standard of conduct is based on the word of God. If He says no then no it is. Some people might disagree with me and that’s ok. I’d rather disagree with the world than try to explain to God why I disagreed with Him. It’s like doing the right thing even when no one else is around.
Penny, you make several great points. That you’ve received strength to persevere, that God’s word is the final word, and that the Ministry Nearest is doing the right thing when no one else is around. Because in truth, Someone is always there. Still, failure is part of the course. No one does it all right; certainly not me.
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