I see posts on Facebook that are quotes, really good quotes sometimes. But sometimes, they don't have an author. Maybe the poster didn't know who the author was or maybe the author is anonymous. Whatever the reason, we wonder who quoted that. Sometimes I ask, 'Who is the author of the quote?' Who do we credit the quote with?
Sometimes someone will do something nice for us, but we don't know who that person is. We don't know who to thank. We don't know who should get the credit or recognition for their heroic act. We wish we could thank them and recognize them, but we don't know who they are. Perhaps they want to remain anonymous.
In evangelism circles, I see two groups of people. There are the servers, and there are the proclaimers. The proclaimers tell us that without hearing the word, people will not be saved. The servers tell us that people will know us by our fruits, especially love and serving. Actually, both groups are right in a sense. They just might not be complete.
Saint Francis of Assisi supposedly said one time, 'Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.'. That sounds like an oxymoron though, because you really can't preach without using words, can you?
Sometimes, the way we live our lives out can send a wonderful message. I believe most of the Christian brothers and sisters I know would excel in serving and being compassionate. The Bible talks about us being a living epistle. Someone also said, 'You might be the only Bible people will ever read'.
It is important to understand that we really do need to be bearing the fruit of the Gospel in our lives. If we don't have good spiritual fruit developing, we need to take a long, hard look at our hearts and ask God to search our hearts and root out sin. Jesus said, 'By their fruits you will know them'. Also, if we abide in Christ, we will bear fruit. So this is most important.
But what if we do bear good fruit, and we love and serve as many people as we can. We can have compassionate hearts and even represent God well. But what if we do all that, yet never proclaim the Gospel to people? What if people see your good works, yet they don't know why you have the ability to produce those works? Who will they give the credit to? You? Your church? Your religion?
I think the problem I see in most of my circles of friends is this; I hear a lot of the word 'evangelism' or even 'witnessing' used, but it really only means serving people, possibly in the name of Christ if His name is even mentioned. Like I already said, we excel in serving. But as we serve in His power, do the recipient's know who is really behind the heart of the servant? Are we helping these people by explaining the Gospel to them? Are our evangelism or missions opportunities providing us with the possibility of proclaiming the Gospel, or are they just providing us with places to serve with the hopes that the recipients will 'catch on' to what we believe in somehow?
Yes, we need to serve. Jesus set the example and we are to follow. But we also need to use words in ministering the Gospel to people. Building houses and sharing food is not proclaiming the Gospel, as necessary as those things are. We tell the Gospel with our mouths. We serve with our hands and hearts. Maybe we can do both serving and proclaiming. When that happens, those being served will know who gets the credit.