It’s possible that your work situation or family situation or neighborhood situation looks, from a spiritual perspective, fairly bleak. You may find yourself in what you consider to be a fairly pagan or secularized environment. But I believe that God is at work in hearts more than we realize.
Today, I want to continue where we left off two days ago, and look at our part in bringing people into an awareness of Jesus that leads to a desire for Jesus. Two days ago, we looked at being the kind of person that God can use to be “sent,” that is to go out into a particular situation or people group or individual’s life and then tell them, so they can hear, believe and call out for salvation.
But the Bible also teaches a principle of “sowers and reapers” in I Corinthians 3:
(NCV) 5b …We are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do.6 I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow.7 So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important.8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work.
My entire part-time work career during eight years of high school and college consisted of working in large department stores. In each area of the store I had to know what the products were, how the products worked, whether there were product warranties, and where the products were kept in the stockroom. I also had to learn how to work the cash register.
So, my usefulness to my employer consisted of two things:
- product knowledge
- sales processing
In later years, when I owned my own business, I realized I had been taught nothing about how to sell. There was no sense in which I asked customers what they felt they needed, qualified what might meet that need, and then proceed to “ask the question.” Asking means saying, “Do you think that this product can meet those needs?” Or, “Is there anything stopping from you buying today?” Or, “Can I wrap that up for you?”
The ingredient I was missing was what is called, “closing the sale.” My training should have been a three-pronged approach consisting of:
- product knowledge
- closing the sale
- sales processing
Sometimes in the Christian journey we encounter people who given to us so that we can plant seeds. And other times, we find people where God has been working in their lives already and they’re just waiting for someone to gently nudge them over the line of faith.
But sometimes we fall short of doing both when the opportunities are present. To switch analogies for a moment, it’s like a baseball game in which you’re up to bat and you get a perfect pitch, but instead of hitting a home run you decide to bunt. What holds us back from the hitting the ball out of the park?
In one of his books*, Bill Hybels tells the story of a friend with whom Bill had been planting seeds for a long time. One day, out of the blue, an associate asked the man if he would like to become a disciple and make Christ the Lord of his life, and the man said yes on the spot. Bill often jokes that this was simply “not fair.” With a department store analogy, you could say that this man was “Bill’s customer;” though thankfully we’re not exactly on commission! More seriously, Bill understands the distinction between sowing and reaping, and rejoices that this man did indeed cross the line of faith.
In Experiencing God, Richard Blackaby talks about coming alongside areas where the Holy Spirit is already working.** Perhaps there is a ministry organization or even a secular social service agency where people, whether consciously or unknowingly, are experiencing the fruit of God’s love and are ripe to respond. Could you be the missing ingredient?
- In the lives of people you’ve been in contact with for the past few weeks or month, are you a sower or a reaper?
- Do you know people right now who you’ve been gently sharing your faith with, but you’ve been afraid to ask the question?
- Re-read today’s key verses. Maybe you find evangelism very difficult. Is there an area where you can be a “water-er” providing after-care for new disciples?
*Just Walk Across The Room,pp. 45-47
**Experiencing God, pp. 54-55; p. 297