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Why Do We Speak?

Ryan Joy


October 1, 2023

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The Big Idea

We’re all unlikely messengers — unfit without God’s help. Our critical contribution to the mission isn't our know-how. It's our zeal. We need clarity on why we want to speak.

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You Do What You Want

What one change would impact your discipling more than any other you could make? What’s the main difference between those who share the gospel and those who don’t? I believe the answer is that they genuinely want to do it. That hurts because many of us want to want it and feel guilty when we don’t. And that’s not helpful. So, how do we turn the corner and stoke the fire of our zeal for the lost?

The Demoniac

How would you feel about meeting the Incredible Hulk in a dark, lonely place? He’s the Marvel “hero” who gets so strong no chain can hold him. He speaks with grunts and rages out of control. The demon-possessed man Jesus met when he got to Gerasene didn’t turn green. But his super-human strength and terrifyingly mad behavior were just as frightening. The townspeople chained him up, but he kept breaking the chains. He screams out in the night and cuts himself up. When Jesus asks for the demon’s name, they identify as not one but as many demons! So they call themselves “Legion,” named for the Roman military unit consisting of 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry.

The Diseased

During an awful famine, so severe that people resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:28-29), four lepers decided, “What have we got to lose?” and approached the camp of the sieging enemy army to beg for bread (2 Kings 7:3-4). But arriving at twilight, they found an empty camp full of abandoned riches and food! The Lord had made the army “hear the sound of chariots and horses” and flee, leaving a feast fit for a king. The lepers stuffed themselves and their pockets, hoarding and hiding all the treasure they could (2 Kings 7:6-8). But then they realized, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:9). And the fortunes of an entire people turned from death to life. This story makes me rethink what it means to share good news. And what it means to keep it to myself. The key word in that verse is “right.” Is it “right” to keep it to ourselves? We’ve found a treasure that could change others’ lives. It’s not MY “lucky day,” it’s “a day of good news” for all. As D.T. Niles said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

The Dead Man.

Our final example didn’t get to share the message, but he did discover how much he wanted to share it — tragically, too late. The rich man who ignored Lazarus in Jesus’ parable found himself in torment and begged Abraham to send someone to warn his five brothers (Luke 16:27-28). The key word is “warn.” We want to warn the people we love when they’re in danger. The more we reflect on their need, it becomes a “burning fire” in our bones we can’t hold in (cf. Jer. 20:9).

Find Your “Why”

My in-laws like to tell the story about my wife’s first words. Until we care enough about what we want to say, why bother? Michael Hyatt writes, “People lose their way when they lose their why.” Peter Block’s business book tells us what we need to know about “how” we do it: The Answer to How Is Yes. We can memorize the message and master the methods, but if we lack the motivation, we won’t speak. Biblical knowledge and evangelistic know-how won’t get the job done unless we pair them with evangelistic zeal! We can find that in many places, like love for others, overflowing joy, fear for their souls, devotion to Christ, and a sense of purpose and mission. But we won’t become effective messengers for God until we know why we are committed to sharing it.

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