Sharing Is Not Optional

When asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus gave “Loving God” and “Loving Our Neighbors As Ourselves” equal status, explaining that when we uphold these two commandments, we’ll uphold all the commandments.

Here’s how it works: When we love our neighbors (everyone who comes under our influence) as ourselves, we’re every bit as concerned for their Salvation as we are for own. When their Salvation truly becomes our highest priority, we become sensitive to the fact that every aspect of our lives plays a critical role in leading them to Jesus. Our testimony is only as strong as our weakest trait. This takes us to where living our lives according to the Law (all of the Ten Commandments) becomes an automatic by-product of sharing our faith, and the furthest thing from legalism.

In addition to being commanded, all of us have been commissioned to share our faith. The Great Commission doesn’t say, “Go ye, those who are gifted or in pastoral ministry, into the world and preach the Gospel.” The Great Commission was given to everyone — especially laypeople. For the most part, our pastors go into our churches. But those of us who are laypeople are the ones going into the world, surrounded by people who are lost, and if we don’t tell them, who will? Above everything else, this is God’s Purpose for your life.

You’re also called to be Christ’s Ambassador. Ambassadors are held responsible for honoring the highest ideals of their leader and their country in every situation, 24 hours a day, even when they’re doing something as casual as eating a meal or attending a sporting event. So it is with every Christian. As Christ’s Ambassador, God holds you responsible for honoring Him in every situation, 24 hours a day. The consistency of your walk and the words of your mouth should always be moving people closer to Jesus, regardless of the circumstances.

Then there’s your calling to be the “Salt of the Earth” and the “Light of the World.” The common thread between these two is that they both change their environment. So here’s your self test: Are you changing your environment or is it changing you? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Are you letting your light shine or have you turned it off?

Why Sharing is Mandated

The weight of scripture makes it abundantly clear that the sharing of your faith is not an option. This begs the question, Why? Why does God view the sharing of your faith as the dominant task of your walk with Him?

There’s a phrase that says, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” which applies to everything in life, including your walk with the Lord. When you cease talking about the life-changing scriptures and experiences that brought you to Christ, their emotional impact on your life goes progressively downhill. This is a natural process known as atrophy, and it’s inescapable when you’re not actively using those scriptures and experiences to lead other people to Jesus.

This is where the American Church is today — overwhelmed by Spiritual Atrophy. Everywhere you look, the joy of the Lord has been replaced by a complaining church that registers just as much anger and anxiety, and consumes just as many pills, as the unchurched. Incredibly, 85% of all our pastors have actually considered quitting the ministry in the last 12 months because of the apathy of people in their pews. On a personal basis, this is a serious issue that can be easily reversed by having the joy of your Salvation restored by the sharing of your faith.

God’s given you a story to tell with the two-fold purpose of leading others to Christ, and keeping your own walk with the Lord alive and fresh. Some would actually argue that God’s top priority in making the sharing of your faith His primary purpose for your life, is to guard your own heart and keep your eyes focused on Him.

In I Corinthians 13, Paul said, even if we have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and have faith and give all our goods to the poor, it profits nothing if we don’t have love. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing and supporting great things, and being greatly respected for doing so, without doing the only thing that has Eternal Significance — loving people into Heaven. You need to keep this in mind: Once you’re in Heaven, the only thing that will matter is how many people are in Heaven or on their way to Heaven because of your influence…and great will be your reward.

God is calling you to live a Holy Life because it’s the first step in “loving your neighbors into Heaven.” As mentioned earlier, your actions don’t speak louder than your words, but they do speak before your words, and should give your words the power and authority to move everyone you directly influence closer to Jesus.

Jesus spoke directly to this issue when He said in John 17:19, And for their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they might also be sanctified through the Truth. He didn’t need to earn extra brownie points with His Father by sanctifying His life. He was doing it so that those around Him might also be sanctified through the Truth. Your level of commitment to live a Holy Life is wholly driven by your level of commitment to lead everyone you influence closer to Jesus

Leading people to Jesus is not just another thing to do, it’s the only thing to do! And when you do that, when you live your life for His Purpose (Romans 8:28), He promises to make everything, even the bad stuff in your life work for good. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Church is Not Enough

While being a faithful church member, giving sacrificially of your time and resources, and knowing good teaching from bad, may earn you respect in your church, it’s not enough for God. God wants nothing less than to be your “First Love” and for you to return to doing the “First Work.”

In His letter to the Church at Ephesus, God says: I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people…you have suffered for Me without quitting. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick…except thou repent.

What’s the last thing you remember being so excited about, that you repeatedly told people about it — something like a great meal, a movie or something you did? When’s the last time you were that excited to tell someone about God?

There are lots of things in life that we love, but God wants to be your “first love” above everything else, and telling someone is the “first work” every new Believer does when they get saved. In this letter to the Church at Ephesus, God is calling His most faithful church attenders to repentance or He’ll remove their “candlestick,” which is commonly understood to be their testimony or the Holy Spirit. This is exactly where the American Church is today. Not only have we dwindled to just 20% of our population but also, by our thoughts and actions, we love God like we love so many other things in life, having lost our excitement over telling people about Him. The Church has lost its testimony. Our salt has lost its saltiness and it’s being trodden under the foot of man (Matthew 5:13).

Loving God and sharing our faith (doing the first work) are inextricably connected. When we love God as our first love, we love to lead people to Him. And when we love to lead people to Him, it’s because we love God as our first love. The two cannot be separated.

God Directs Your Steps

While we often look at God’s promises as being separate and standing alone, they’re actually interrelated and interdependent on each other. God’s promise to make everything in your life work for good depends on living your life for His Purpose…the Redemption of Mankind.

When you live your life for the Redemption of Mankind, you automatically live in faith by knowing God’s making everything in your life work for good. This equation is foundational to how you are to live your life every day. We’re called to be People of Faith and, in fact, without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

This is reinforced in Proverbs 3:5 when God tells us to trust in the Lord with your whole heart, do not lean unto your own understanding, acknowledge God in all your ways and He Will Direct Your Path. When you focus on leading everyone, every day, closer to Jesus, you will acknowledge Him (speak of Him) in everything you do. Then God promises He will direct your steps. This is where the rubber meets the road for Christians and it’s absolutely consistent throughout scripture.

God’s Purpose

People often spend their entire lives wondering what God’s purpose is for their life? Like an itch you can’t scratch, no matter how much time and money you give to your church and other ministries, you know something is still missing . . . Joy! Hear me on this, it’s not about your purpose . . . God doesn’t have one purpose for you and another for me and another for himself! He has but one purpose, the redemption of mankind, to seek and save the lost, that none should be lost! Sharing your faith is not an add-on to being a Christian, it’s what being a Christian is all about! If you’re a Christian, the only thing that will matter 100 years from now is how many people will be in Heaven, on their way to Heaven, and not going to Heaven because of your influence!

All Things Work Together for Good

Always remember that God, not man, is your source for everything. When you get turned down for the sale, or by the bank, or have a flat tire, or find yourself in a chemo ward, it’s never by accident when you’re living your life for God’s purpose. God never says “oops!” He’s up to something! People don’t expect you to love on them when things go south for you. It’s not natural, it’s supernatural, and every time you love on people, in Jesus’ name, when things are bad, you’re telling God your trust is in Him and not in man, and you unleash His provision for making everything in your life work for good!

Change Your Environment

We’re all called to be salt and light, but what is it that they both have in common? They both change their environment. We cannot let our environment change us! We must continue to remember that God is our source for everything and we must fulfill His mandate to share His love with everyone we meet!

Life Is About Redemption

While we focus 99% of our attention on the things of this world, this world is not our home. We’re just ’a passin’ through. The brevity of our life on earth is almost meaningless in comparison to our everlasting life that begins at the end of our brief moment on earth.

Our life on earth is like an internship for Heaven. As creatures of free will, we’re given the opportunity to choose Heaven or Hell. If and when we choose Heaven — more correctly God’s Gift of Eternal Life through the Death and Resurrection of His Son and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ — we’re given but one task to fulfill. To live our lives for His Purpose, which is the Redemption of Mankind.

We’re called to be the salt of the earth and God has salted the earth with our presence. In every country and every situation, with every type of skill and expertise, we are to use all for His Glory. Wherever God has planted you, from being a critical care patient in a hospital to being the leader of a country, it’s your Mission Field. There are no exceptions.

If you’re in a difficult place, don’t waste the opportunity! Your light shines brighter in darkness. Your opportunity to lead people to Jesus is enhanced and you’re in the middle of a spiritual growth spurt. Live your life for His Purpose, the redemption of those around you, in every situation and watch how God uses your suffering to lead those watching you closer to Him.

To put things in perspective, consider how you’ll view your life on earth 1,000 years from now…or a trillion years from now. In the presence of our Holy God, all thoughts of human accomplishment will be laughable if even remembered. The only thing of value from your earthly life, for Eternity, will be how many people are in Heaven because of your influence.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store treasures in Heaven Matthew 6:19-20. By holding on to this focus, the sharing of your faith will become as automatic as breathing. For where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also Matthew 6:21.

Romans 12:2 says it best: Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. So that you can say with the Apostle Paul, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). And hear God say, Well done thou good and faithful servant…enter into thy reward Matthew 25:23.

Yes! Life is about Redemption!

Be Intentional

Our lives are filled to overflowing with good and righteous things to do with our lives. And yet, every day, reality sets in and most of the things we want to do are pushed aside by the things we have to do. This is why most people feel like their lives are out of control…with no hope in sight.

But there is hope! In fact, it’s a promise from God to make everything in your life work for good. Everything! Chances are you already know about this promise without living it out in complete peace for the rest of your life.

But it’s more than a promise. It’s a contract between you and God, and He’s more than ready to fulfill His end of the contract. It’s up to you to complete it. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things will work for good for those who love God and live according to His Purpose…and His Purpose is very clear. Jesus came to seek and save the lost…that none should be lost. That was and is His Purpose. And when you live your life for His Purpose, you complete your end of the contract.

But this is a contract (and a promise) that’s only valid when you keep your end of the bargain. And what a bargain it is! Leading everyone, every day, closer to Jesus in return for having God Himself making everything in your life work for good. You get to be a continual blessing to everyone around you while having God, the Creator of Everything, be a continual blessing to you.

But it has to be intentional every moment of every day. If it’s not intentional, you’ll only experience a few of the opportunities God places in your path. The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord as are the steps of those He wants you to influence. Indeed, your days are filled with amazing opportunities that you’ll only enjoy when you’re expecting them to happen. You have to be intentional!