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

Monday, April 19, 2010

Personal Witnessing - Don't Go Too Far (Part 6)

If you are just joining us on this posting, you may want to read the other postings in this series leading up to this particular one. We are looking at a few tips (using John 4 as our base) on how to share your faith with someone you meet. It's not as hard as you may think. And even if it is hard, it's still your personal and moral responsibility to witness for Christ to those you meet. You have what they desperately need in this life and must have for eternity. We are following some tips outlined in Paul Little's classic book - How To Give Away Your Faith with the indented paragraphs being direct quotes.

Today the question is: how far do you go if the conversation has turned into a spiritual one? Let's eavesdrop on the conversation at the well. Did Jesus tell her everything He knew? In the segment of verses below, did He tell her everything He knew about her or even everything she needed to know?

"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." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet."
(John 4:13-19)
Jesus didn't actually tell her what she ultimately needed to know until Verse 26. 

Despite the woman's obvious interest and curiosity, Jesus didn't give her the whole story at once. Gradually, as she was ready for more, He revealed more about Himself. Then, when her curiosity had reached fever pitch (v.26) He identified Himself as the long awaited Messiah.

The moment we detect a faint glimmer of interest in non-Christians, many of us want to rush right in and rattle off the whole Gospel without coming up for air or waiting for any audience response. (After all, we might not get another chance, we think!) But by relying on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we can gain poise. Non-Christians need gentle coaxing when they're just beginning to show interest: it's usually fragile at first. Otherwise, like birds scared from their perches by a sudden movement toward them, they will withdraw. On the other hand, if we are casual in our attitude and relaxed in our manner, the inquirers might even press us to share with them.

Even if you don't get beyond a discussion about the reality of God and our ultimate accountability to God - don't think you have wasted your time. Let that truth sink in deeply. After your voice is silent, the Spirit of God can flood them with thoughts about their readiness to meet God which will in turn, create a thirst to hear more.

Don't Condemn
Consider the verses above. Sometimes we rush to deal with the issue of sin. Sometimes we try to do the work of the Spirit of God in convicting people of their sin. We probe, we rub, we pry - trying to confront someone with their sin. But take close notice how tactfully Jesus brought up the issue of sin. A reference to her husband. After the woman responded to the 'husband' comment, Jesus went a little further but He did it so graciously and obliquely. He didn't rub sin in her face. Even though she may have felt like dirt, He sure did not call her a piece of dirt. He credited her for being truthful. She also knew that He was inviting her to come back to Him, despite her sin.

Don't go too far. Don't tell everything you know in one breath. Know one wants to listen to a know-it-all. As Paul Little said: "Go slow and let the Spirit lead."

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