Two weeks back I preached a message out of Luke's Gospel dealing with the , or "seed planting" (evangelism). In it I quoted a poem given to me by one of my professors in seminary and written by a man named Edgar Guest. I have had it taped to the inside cover of my Bible for these many years (25 to be exact!) as a reminder of the danger that pastor's (and all other Christians) can often fall into over time -- that of knowing and sharing a Gospel they do not always seek to live out in their everyday lives.
At the conclusion of the service a number of people asked for a copy. Here it is for those who asked (and for those of you who were not present to hear it). Enjoy!
"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's alway clear.
And the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds,
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you'll let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live."
It follows right in line with the well-known advice of St. Francis of Assisi which I sent a few months back:
"Everywhere you go preach the Gospel... and when necessary, use words."
In the sermon I did point out the opposite truth -- that we must also use words -- "For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:12-17). At some point we must share the Gospel in words, for mere example is not enough!
The Holy Spirit can extend the saving call apart from our words, but most frequently He calls people as we audibly share the truths of the Gospel with them, and admonish them to believe it and place all their trust for salvation in the Jesus of whom it speaks.
All Christians are called or commissioned to share the Gospel of God's grace which is devoid of any concept of merit, or the need to be "worthy." And although it is beyond dispute that the Gospel has power in and of itself to save people apart from our flawed attempts to live it out (Romans 1:16-17), those who have sought to share it know (as once pointed out) that we must often earn the right to be heard or earn their listening ear by seeking to live out in front of them the message we want them to "hear" and believe.
Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans