I have always loved the quote “preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” The first time I heard the phrase, it truly resonated with me and I felt a challenge to live a life worthy of the Gospel. My thought process changed and I felt such a responsibility with how I acted, behaved and the attitude I had each day. I can honestly say it was a challenge I took to heart. But, there are many people who will discount this quote because you can “disprove” its validity in Scripture. Or claim this is a misquote of Francis of Assisi. Regardless, here is the truth:
This is a great motivation and challenge to live a life more honoring of Christ. If it is something pushing you closer to Jesus, then it is most likely beneficial for your life as a Christ follower.
Here is where I am at with this and my challenge for anyone who takes the time to read this: Live the Gospel, and ALSO preach the Gospel.
Mark 13:10- “And the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations.”
When I looked up the Greek word used for “preached” and saw what it means, it truly means to proclaim with your mouth. In order to preach the Gospel, it needs to be said, spoken and communicated. If we want to reach every single person and people group on the planet, no matter where they are at in their life and relationship with Jesus, we have to speak up, be bold and share the Gospel!
It is worth noting, Jesus is giving this charge to His disciples in the midst of telling them how they will all suffer and face persecution. But Jesus caps it off by offering encouragement in verse 11, saying, “…but whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” When we are uncertain, afraid or unaware, we can call on the Holy Spirit and He will come and speak for us. But the key is the boldness to open your mouth.
Now, what I want to get at in all of this is simply this: you have to speak in order to preach the Gospel, but you can exemplify the Gospel by your actions. Both are necessary. Both are vital. And honestly, both are needed. If you want to preach the Gospel, your actions better back up your words. If you want your words to carry weight, your actions, attitudes and behaviors better be shouting the goodness of Jesus and the Gospel! Oftentimes we say more by our nonverbal communication.
Are you preaching the Gospel? I know for me, I clung to this quote of “preaching” by my actions, but for me, it was a cop-out. I hid behind this phrase because it was easier for me to act like Jesus than actually open my mouth and talk about how much I love Him.
If you feel similar, it is time to be bold and open your mouth because all nations will hear the Gospel when people like you and I open our mouths and proclaim of His Good News. If you are more comfortable with preaching the Gospel, check your actions. If you want your words to carry weight, people better know how much you truly care about them and Jesus. Few things give non Christians a worse taste in their mouth than someone who proclaims one thing and then show something completely different with their lives. It is called hypocrisy.
The crux of the matter can be summed up in a few quotes from some of my closest friends:
“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Pastor Jay Warriner
“You can either talk about it, or be about it.” – Pastor Pablo Contreras
Our charge as Christians is to use our words to proclaim the goodness of Jesus and share His Gospel. Yet, we also need to be living the Gospel out to ensure those words won’t fall on deaf ears because our actions say something completely different. Preach the Gospel with your words, and also preach it with your actions. Both are right. Both are necessary. Both are needed.