Summary: When we think of evangelism what immediately comes to mind? Street corner hawkers, people who only want you to see their point of view. Brow beaters who get upset if you don’t follow them? It was never meant to be that way. Evangelism is one beggar sho

Evangelism: heavy or light?

1 Thessalonians 2:1-16

When we speak of evangelism what thoughts run through your mind? It’s the preacher’s job? Street corner Bible thumpers? Door to door salesman type people? Pushy people who are trying to get to see things their way? How about guilt for not saying enough about the Lord? People swarming down the aisle at a revival or other type “religious” rally? Or is it friends sharing the excitement of good news with each other? I remember hearing Mike Warnke telling of his boot camp experience. For Paul evangelism was always a delightful and exciting experience. Evangelism is one beggar telling another where to find bread.

Has telling others about the Lord been a positive or negative experience for us? For me it has been both. Positive when we share, negative when we argue, that is why I have chosen not to argue over scripture. I remember reading a book called “7 habits of highly effective people.” In it Steven Covey says; “Seek to understand rather than be understood.” Why is this an effective witnessing tool? We then can understand where they are coming from, we show that we are interested in them as a person with feelings, then they might be more apt to listen to us and give us the same respect.

1TH 2:1 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition

Paul ran into problems with evangelism everywhere he went. He calls it strong opposition. Sometimes it was from the Jews, sometimes it was from the Gentile merchants, but it never silenced him. Ever have someone insult you for your faith? Paul could have quit, who would blame him? He was stoned, he was beaten, he was put in prison and still he kept at it. What stops us?

3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed--God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,

It really matters where our motives lie. Paul does say in Phil 1:18 that motives for preaching does not matter, but if it is the difference from having a positive or negative experience, then motives do matter. Are we trying to put a feather in our cap or a notch on our belt? Are we looking to lead a long train to heaven? Or are we doing it to please our Heavenly Father? That is Jesus’ motive, which is why the Hebrews writer says

(Hebrews 12:2) 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So motive is important to our witnessing, the right motives we go into it with will help us have a positive experience, for both the evangelizer and the evangelized. Paul describes his witness in Thessalonica as like “a mother caring for her children” they showed a love for God and for the people (v7-9).

What results can we have if we go with improper motives? Deception? Greed? Praise of men instead of God? Then we will have our reward here, or we could become disqualified for the prize. Paul worried, lack of a better phrase, about becoming disqualified Colossians 2:18 Paul tells us not to let anyone with false motives disqualify us from the heavenly prize. Such a person who preaches or evangelizes from false or impure motives is detached and condemned.

1TH 2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Our motives should be righteous and blameless; our witness should be encouraging and comforting. Like the lighthouse warning of danger and pointing the way to safety. Warning the world of the consequences of sin, and pointing to the one who paid the price for our sins.

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