Use Words When Necessary

“Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words when necessary.”

– St Francis of Assisi

Did St. Francis actually utter these words?  Blogger Julie Zimmerman’s take:

This is a great quote, very Franciscan in its spirit, but not literally from St. Francis. The thought is his; this catchy phrasing is not in his writings or in the earliest biographies about him.

In Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, Francis told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.” (for more, click here

My friend shared an account where simple engaging kindness lead to an invitation to hang out, which lead to a another friend sharing the gospel, which lead to the young man attending church and considering making a decision for Christ.  I don’t think this guy winds up hearing from said friend without the initial warm friendliness extended – lifestyle evangelism at its best.

I’m a huge fan of lifestyle evangelism…especially when it’s consummated with WORDS.

Romans 10:14 tells us, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Some Christians have the GIFT of evangelism, meaning they’ll probably bang about every person they see with the Good News that man can have peace with God in this life and enjoy eternity with him in the next.  (I don’t have this gift.)

However, gifting aside,  ALL of us who call Christ, “King”, have a responsibility to follow the Spirit’s leading to plant seed, water and/or sometimes harvest a soul who is READY.  That requires being in tune with the Spirit…and eventually using WORDS.

With regards to being in step with the Spirit, many of Christ-followers are aimlessly wandering and missing opportunities to share their faith because they’re not reading their Bibles & praying regularly.  Worse, they forego any chance at lifestyle evangelism because they act precisely the same as unbelieving friends: engaging in gossip, excessively worrying, get publicly drunk (or worse), use foul language, etc.

I wonder what it is about that lifestyle that they hope to pin Good News on?  Some of them claim, “freedom from sin,” and then hurl accusations about judging them.  The fact remains, they are missing opportunities to be used by God to change lives forever.

They are missing chances to greet people in heaven that say, “I’m here because God used you.”

Hey Christian: sometimes you gotta use WORDS!  Peter admonishes us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15.  We must not limp through life not being able to share our story, or knowing what’s required if this person wants to cross that line of faith NOW…

The first part of that verse commands us to “…revere Christ as Lord.” – if we’re doing this, then we will take His Great Commission seriously:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20

My New Rig

Riding in his sweet, paid-for Mercedes, I remember thinking Uncle Vic had figured something out.

He would buy really good cars in the middle of their life at a low price (less than what it was worth) – he would target about $20K.  When he’d enjoyed the best these cars had to offer – about 12-18 months – he would sell it for at least what he’d paid, often more, and buy another newer one.

The key seemed to be getting that first one.  This was over 12 years ago, but I distinctly recall buying in to this philosophy, hoping to someday actually do it. 

At the time, I had been leasing for my entire adult life. New cars were kinda cool, but with my travel schedule, I was getting killed on mileage charges when I turned them in.  Most often, the dealer would “help me out” by rolling any overages into my new lease. 

Yeah, it kinda felt like being on the hamster wheel.

Fast forward to 2011: I finally broke down and read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  Beyond ripping the concept of “fleecing” cars (we all get fleeced when we lease), Dave recommends creating a sinking fund for a car and paying cash. 

Cash.

Paid-for. In FULL.

So, Kristy and I saved for 11 months; in December, we finally had $3000 saved, with hopes of buying a car valued a little higher.  When I checked Craig’s List on 12/28, hundreds of cars were listed in the $3-5000 range within 30 miles of us here in South Jersey.  I narrowed my list: I had been driving my friend’s standard ’97 BMW 328i this past year (on loan), and really wanted something similar. Dozens of BMWs were listed, starting mid-to-late 90s.  After wasting one afternoon of test-driving cars that had few details or pictures, I decided to be more judicious about my legwork.

One simple email to an advertiser yielded a solid lead: a BMW salesperson was selling their ’95 530i; it had only 91K miles and had been serviced the past 4 years at the dealership.  The pictures looked great; standard transmission (sweet & rare); V8 meant the POWER was there.  

She rightly listed an asking price of $5000.

I’m not the negotiator that I intend to be…someday. But it’s easy to negotiate when you have a hard ceiling: all we had was $3000 cash.  I asked if she’d consider that price, knowing we would care for her baby; she said she would if we threw some prayers in on the deal.

We did. 

After googling our seller’s name to make sure she was legit, we drove to Delaware (45 minutes away) and arrived a little early at the meeting place – there was a nasty, rusted late-80s BMW in the parking lot, and Kristy’s heart sank.  Fortunately, that wasn’t it.

This was parked across from it:

Image

We gave her the money after she started it up without even driving it.  Turns out the seller had also google’d me: her pre-printed Bill of Sale had my correct address on it.  Life in the Web 2.0 age…

I’ve bought cars before, but nothing compares to the satisfaction derived from this experience: delayed gratification, culminating in a value-added purchase that serves our bigger financial goals.