“For Christ's love compels us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14, NIV). Feeling compelled by Christ’s love to share his good news is a good indicator of spiritual maturity. It suggests to us that the seed sown by God is growing well in our hearts.
But feeling compelled to share the Gospel is one thing, doing it effectively is quite another. In the reflection of Day 29, making ourselves “a living gospel to others” was suggested as an effective way to share the Gospel. Today, let’s turn our attention to two important virtues that we must practise in order to be successful in being “a living gospel to others”: love and humility.
Sometimes, we are so fixated on being efficient in using our time and effort that we tend to overlook the needs and feelings of the recipients of our sharing. It's important to remember that the best way to share our faith is not by wearing people down with endless instructions or barking out strict orders like a slave-driver. The Christian message of love needs to be shared with genuine love. St. Augustine says “Once and for all, a short rule is laid down for you: Love, and do what you will. If you keep silent, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love. Let the root of love be within. From such a root nothing but good can come.” (Sermon on 1 John)
“[S]top disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen”, (2 Timothy 2:14). How often do we find ourselves arguing with people on the rhetoric? In the process, we deviate from our goal of helping them to see the truth. Our emotions and pride get in the way. Suddenly, winning the argument becomes our priority. Once again, St. Augustine comes to our rescue if we are prone to making this mistake: “The teacher should not serve the words but the words the teacher” (On Christian Doctrine 4.28.61). The words are the teacher's tool. They are the means, not the end. Always remember: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
One last but perhaps the most important point. We must have the humility to accept that conversion of human hearts is God's work, not ours. St. Paul speaks from personal experience: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). We must not claim credit if we succeed in helping people to grow in faith; nor should we despair when we fail. Like St. Paul and Apollos, our job is to keep planting and watering. By God's grace, conversions will follow.