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Should Christians be “witnessing”?

Quick Answer: Should Christians be “witnessing”? Witnessing (or evangelism) is often held up as the ultimate in Christian experience or duty. While witnessing (sharing the Gospel) can be a great thing, problems can arise when we make witnessing into a duty, obligation, or measure of spiritual maturity. 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” The key lies in simply being prepared to offer an answer to someone and to do so with gentleness and respect. (This attitude is very different from militantly seeking to persuade someone.) Experience shows that we can only spiritually help those who are truly seeking our help.

Diving Deeper: Christians often place a strong emphasis on the importance of witnessing to unbelievers. While talking about Jesus can be a great thing, it may surprise some to know that evangelism isn’t actually a fruit of the Spirit (John 13:35; Galatians 5:22-23). Here, we do not belittle evangelism. We only mean to say that anyone can engage in an activity, but the mark of God’s Spirit is that, in whatever we do, attributes like love and joy and gentleness are expressed. In short, God wants us to express Jesus, not just talk about Him.

So, we need to be careful not to turn witnessing into a spiritual requirement or standard of measure. If we do, then we may never be able to witness enough to feel okay with God! And we may find our joy about the Gospel zapped from us and replaced with yet another religious “to do” list (Galatians 5:1). God did not save us primarily to talk about Him. He saved us to give us new life and relationship with Him. From this vibrant and grace-filled relationship with Jesus, sharing about Him can spring forth naturally from our hearts.

As is the case with all good works, evangelism needs to be inspired by God’s Spirit in an atmosphere of grace. We should not witness to become more righteous: We are already the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We should not witness to grow spiritually: Spiritual growth comes from God and takes time (Colossians 2:19; 1 Corinthians 3:6). We should not witness to get more of God: We already have Him in abundance (John 17:23).

In summary, we can “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We are God’s witnesses as we maintain an attitude of readiness to help those who truly want help from us, and we can help them without any pressure or obligation in an attitude of gentleness and respect.

Let’s Make It a Conversation!
1. Have  you ever shared Christ with someone? How did it go?
2. Why do you think “witnessing” (evangelism) is often twisted into a legalistic measure of spirituality?
3. Read 1 Peter 3:15. In what ways does this passage sum up the healthy approach to evangelism?


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