Preach Always – and Try to Use Words!

I’m going to say something that may shock and offend some of you (if anyone is, in fact, reading this):

You know the St. Francis quote “Preach always, and if necessary, use words”?

I’m NOT a big fan.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think I get the heart behind this quote, and I do believe that our actions are important, can sometimes say more than mere words can, and are certainly necessary to back up our claims of faith in Christ. But I have been a little disturbed by a trend I’ve noticed lately – in certain Christian organizations, and certainly in my own life – of thinking that merely “doing good” for others is enough – or perhaps more important – than sharing with them the life-changing message of the gospel. I’ve heard that St. Francis quote a LOT, and wonder if people start to use it as license to do good without naming the name of Jesus. After all, THAT’S where the risk is, isn’t it. It’s one thing – and a good thing – to help meet someone’s practical needs. It’s another thing to take it a step further by telling them WHY you’re doing it. To me, this is the really tricky part. When you bring food to the hungry, you’re likely to be met with applause from the world. When you bring food to the hungry and then bring up the name of Jesus, you’re more likely to be met with a critical eye and maybe even accusations of dumping religion down someone’s throat. Yet I think it’s crucial that people understand why we do what we do. We need to stop expecting that people will see us doing good, and automatically know that we are a Christian. Yes, as it says in Matthew, when they see our good deeds, they will praise our Father in heaven – but I don’t think this means that we don’t need to tell them we are Christians – to help make the connection! As the pastor mentioned in the sermon this morning, many Mormons live wonderful lives and do much good in our community – but their message is a far cry from that of a Christian. If we want to be the MOST effective in reaching our world for Christ, the declaration of our faith and the demonstration of our faith must go hand in hand. As was also mentioned in church this morning,

demonstration without declaration = a mystery

declaration without demonstration = hypocrisy

4But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[a] And how are they to hear without someone preaching?(

Romans 10:13-15 (English Standard Version)

What do you all think?

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4 responses to “Preach Always – and Try to Use Words!

  1. Hey Nikki, good thoughts. I agree, I see a trend of people using that quote to think “well I don’t actually have to step up and say anything, I’ll just do my best to live right and that will show them the gospel” obviously this can lead back to a salvation by works mentality or at minimum being on God’s good side by works.

  2. Nikki, I think you have a very valid point! People need to know we do “good things” not because we are good people, but because we care about their soul.

  3. Thank you, Nikki. I have a blog started myself on this very point that I never got around to finishing. Now I can just agree with you and your blog. 🙂

  4. I dont necessarliy think you are wrong but I have a different way of looking at it. I look at that quote to say life your life in a way that you make your faith contagious. You need to live a life that exudes your spirituality and lets others know what you are about without ever saying a word. Your actions speak volumes about your character.

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