Sometimes the best strategic move we can make in witnessing to someone about Christ is… not to mention Him.
The other day I was at our local grocery store, standing in line at the cashier stand with about 15 items loaded onto the conveyor belt. It was a busy time of day, all of the cashiers had a line of customers waiting to be served. A gentleman stepped into line behind me, he looked like he had been working hard that day, his work clothes being adorned with fresh dirt, grease, and oil. In his hand was a single item for purchase.
I casually suggested that he could go before me in the line, instead of waiting for all of my stuff to be scanned and purchased. He acknowledged with a nod and stepped in front of me. As he was paying the cashier, he turned to me and said, “That’s the first nice thing that has happened to me today. Thank You for letting me go ahead of you.”
He said it not too loud, but it was enough for the people around our cashier to hear it. Another man chimed-in with an encouraging word to the gentleman, and there were lots of smiles as we all engaged him for a moment. The gentlemen’s facial expression and his tone confirmed to us that he really was having a bad day up to that moment.
For just a second or two in time, I thought to myself how I might engage him conversationally with the hopes of sharing some even better news with him about Christ. Not preaching, not in-your-face, just a casual word or two, or just even a hint of the Lord.
Before I said anything further, I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit that simply communicated to me, “Don’t mention Me.”
He thanked all of us again for our small gestures and words of kindness, he picked up his single item and walked toward the door.
As I pondered the scene on my way back home, I was reminded of a passage in the scriptures that the Apostle Paul penned:
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose… For we are co-workers in Godʼs service…”
~ 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
Accepting Christ Proceeds From A Process
When someone turns their life over to Christ, it is almost always the result of a process over time, not just an instantaneous hear-believe-saved moment. There will be people in their life that God used to break up the hardened soil of their heart, and others who planted the seeds of life, and still others that came along and watered those seeds. It is God who oversees the whole process, from beginning to end.
My role in the gentlemen’s life at the grocery store may have been to help break up the hardened soil of his heart with a simple gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness. No, it won’t be the critical moment of his salvation, but it may be one experience of many that eventually culminates in his entry into a new life in Christ.
Maybe the next believer he encounters will have the role of planting some seeds, then later another person to water those seeds. We cannot limit ourselves to only doing the BIG things that will result in the BIGGEST outcomes (though those moments certainly are wonderful to see). We are co-workers with each other and with God, and God is the one who is overseeing the gentlemen’s progress through the process of attaining faith and a new life in Christ.
Who knows, maybe the next person that I encounter will have already been served by a number of others, and I will have the privilege and joy of being there to lead him in his final step of faith, to accept Christ.
An Example of When The Spirit Says Not to Preach
During his missionary journeys, the Apostle Paul encountered times when he was directed by the Holy Spirit not to speak, and even not to visit. Sometimes he was given a reason, and at other times no reason was given (at least that we know of from his writings). For example,
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
~ Acts 16:6-7
Even more important than our willingness to go anywhere under any circumstances to preach the gospel, is our willingness and sensitivity to hear the Holy Spirit direct us to go here, don’t go there; say this, don’t say that; do it now, don’t do it yet; do it this way, don’t do it that way. After all, in ministry we are not doing things for God, we are doing things with God, and He is our Commander and King.
#PastorsTip #Christian #Faith #Salvation #GrowingInFaith #Witnessing #BeingSilent #Planting #Watering #GodGivesGrowth