For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Friday, April 9, 2010

Personal Witnessing - Arousing Interest (Part 4)

There is no cookie-cutter approach to Personal Witnessing. Sometimes what has worked for others fails to work for you. The approach you are comfortable with will reflect your own personality. In this current series we are closely following Paul E. Little's classic book How To Give Away Your Faith. (click on title) If you don't have it in your collection of books you should add it to your library. Is everything he recommended the be all and end all? Definitely not but it has been a huge help to thousands.

You have someone you would like to share Christ with. Like Jesus and the woman at the well in John Chapter 4, you are alone with the person. You have established the 'small chat' and you have found some common ground. You have found a way to make a smooth transition from 'give me a drink of water' to the next level of discussion. That's where we start in this post.

What He Didn't Say to Her
If there is such a thing as a cookie-cutter approach to personal witnessing, where could we find a better lesson than how Christ witnessed to the woman at the well? He didn't immediately condemn her for her sin. He didn't get her to look into the deep well and then tell her if she didn't repent of her sins she would go down far deeper than the bottom of the well. His approach is beautiful and He unfolds it so tactfully.

Arousing Interest
How did He get the woman's interest at the well? So often our conversations are one way and come to an abrupt end when the other person tunes us out. How did He get her interest?

After asking for a drink, she then asked Him why He would even talk to her - seeing He was Jew. Read the next few verses in John 4:

From the Bible
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(John 4:10-14)

Talk about making a person curious!  "Did I just hear this man mention a GIFT from God? Who wouldn't want to hear more about a GIFT! I would love to have a gift!"   ummmm....and then He said something about.....if I only knew who HE was... I wonder who He is. He does seem to be uniquely different. And what is this about 'living water'? I am so curious!"
It is fascinating to see this woman's curiosity kindled and begin to burn as Jesus drew her along. His treatment of her certainly contributed to the very positive response she had to Him and His message of truth.
In following our Lord's example, we can turn small events in our relationships to a conversation about spiritual things. A neighbor said to my nephew and his wife: "I've been watching your family and your three young girls, and I like what I see coming out of your house." They took this opportunity to talk about some guidelines the Bible gives for family living. Seemingly small things can open doors for a verbal witness.
When You have an Open Door do You Barge in?
If your neighbor had made a similar comment to you, how would you have responded? Would you have said: "Thanks very much. We are Christians. We have a moment in our lives when as lost sinners bound for Hell, we turned to Christ for salvation. Do you have such a moment in your life or are you still on the broad road that leads to destruction?" Well, that's one approach but your neighbor may say: "Wow! That's the last thing I will ever say to him along that line!"
The Lord Jesus seemed to just say enough to lead the woman to ask a further question. When she heard about the living water she actually asked for it - even though she didn't understand what He was talking about at that point.

It is possible to learn how to be assertive , tasteful speakers for the Lord without being obnoxious.....Once the non-Christian takes the first step in showing some response to us, it takes the pressure off us. Then we can pick up the conversation later with simple phrases like, "I was thinking about the conversation we had yesterday...." or "Something I read reminded me about what you said yesterday...." or "What were you thinking when you said....yesterday?" There would be no pressure or embarrassment in raising the subject again. On the other hand, if we are forcing the person against increasing resistance, we tend to do more harm than good. Remember how Jesus gently led the conversation.

We cannot create spiritual interest in others' lives, even though we might like to. Only the Holy Spirit can do this. However, we can be instruments in His hand to uncover the interest that He has put there....Relieved of the tension of forced conversation with an unwilling listener, we can bring up the subject later. Confident of the Lord's guidance, we will be natural as we introduce spiritual things. In our witnessing we ought to be as relaxed in our tone of voice and demeanor as we are when we're discussing a physics assignment, a ball game, or our next vacation.

All the people I know who have been used of God in personal evangelism have expected to discover interested people. In any group of people or in a conversation with any particular individual, they ask themselves: "Lord, is this one in whom You are working?" Then as the Spirit gives opportunity, they proceed to test the waters.
Coming next: Get the ball rolling - the deeper conversation.

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