When I worked for a Christian book store, a part of my job was to offer to my customers the ability to sponsor a child living in a third-world country, as well as various other ministry opportunities, such as sending Bibles to women in pregnancy counseling centers or to children in Latin America or to men and women in the US Armed Services. Sometimes my customers would accept my offer to participate in one of these ministries, but more often my customers decline, which is perfectly fine. Many were already participating in that or other similar ministries. Some customers declined because they were on fixed incomes. But, one customer gave me the most curious response: she stated that offering these ministry opportunities is somehow a violation of her privacy.
The customer was obviously upset, likely from feeling guilty from not participating. I try not to make my customers feel guilty. If after they decline the offer they tell me why they declined, as most do, I assure them that it is their decision whether or not to support these ministries, and in fact that God has made them the stewards of the funds with which He has intrusted them–that only they may rightly decide where to allocate those funds. If the customer also says something about feeling guilty, I also state that I am not trying to make them feel guilty, but if they are, that it might be the Holy Spirit convicting them, and that it isn’t me.
Some of my co-workers were far more timid about offering our ministry opportunities to our customers. They shared with me that they don’t want to be offensive or cause a customer to feel guilty or be confrontational. These are the same excuses that I hear very often from brothers and sisters of our faith that are not sharing the gospel with everyone they encounter, let alone anyone they encounter.
When we choose to follow Christ, we accept the Great Commission and relinquish the luxury to decide whether or not we will share the gospel. We also relinquish the comfort we might seek in being non-confrontational. That is not to say that we should seek to be confrontational or obnoxious in our approach to sharing the gospel. In fact, the most effective means to sharing the gospel is by establishing relationships with non-believers, showing them Christ through our actions, how He works through us.
But if we were to limit ourselves to only sharing the gospel with individual with whom we had the opportunity to establish long-standing relationships, then we would miss most of our opportunities throughout the day–the window attendant at our favorite fast-food stop, the barista at the coffee shop, the clerk at the dry cleaners, the attendant at the gas station. We will likely not have the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with most of these people, and we potentially rob them of the kingdom if we don’t at least share part of the gospel with them, at least giving them an evangelism tract.
Paul, in writing to his protege, Timothy, put it this way:
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…(2 Timothy 1:6-9 ESV)”
He directs Timothy to be bold–fan into flame–and goes on to explain that we are not to be, as some translations put it, timid, but to be instead powerful, loving and with self-control. We can show another no greater love than to share with them the gospel by which they can receive salvation. If we have the opportunity to share the life saving truth with them, but fail for the selfish reason of timidity, we show them hatred, not love.
But Paul also cautions Timothy to be of self-control. When sharing the gospel, we need to analyze how they best might receive it from us. For some a direct approach is best, but for others, a simple non-confrontational evangelism tract is best. The point is that we must do something to share the gospel.
So, if fear has been holding you back from sharing the gospel with others, I challenge you to daily seek at least one opportunity to in someway share the gospel. And remember, we do this because we love God and we love the people with whom we are sharing the gospel.