Prepare Yourself


          1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” We need to be prepared to answer questions, but there is another way in which we must prepare ourselves.
          Our behavior is important when we consider our influence on others. The Scriptures say, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:13-16).
          If you act like a fool with no hope, if you are disobedient yourself to the Bible, and if you live as the world lives, why should anyone listen to what you say about Jesus? If He doesn’t impact your life, why would you think that He would impact someone else’s?
          We need to be a positive influence on the people we come into contact with. Classmates, co-workers, neighbors, friends, even the person taking your order at the fast food joint. Don’t you have good news? The best news ever? Don’t you have a reason to smile and rejoice?
          Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
          What did Jesus do for you? Doesn’t that make you ecstatic? Shouldn’t that make you glow with His love? “A city that is set on a hill CANNOT be hidden.” God has exalted you, His child, and His love should shine so brightly it blinds everyone around you! DON’T TRY TO DIM IT! Don’t put it under a basket; put it on a lampstand! Let everyone see the light! Let everyone glorify the Father! Let everyone experience His love!
          It does not matter how young you are. If you have experienced the saving blood of Jesus, you let your light shine! “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Don’t give anyone a reason to say a single bad word about you.
          Be an example in word. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Don’t be telling dirty jokes or cursing. Use your words to encourage others in the church. It doesn’t cost a penny to give someone a compliment.
          Be an example in conduct. Recall what Peter wrote about obedience and holiness. Our character should reflect Christ.
          Be an example in love. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Can you substitute your name for the word “love” in that passage and it still ring true? Are you patient, kind, humble, and selfless?
          Be an example in spirit. Paul said in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Our attitude is so important when we consider evangelism. If you’re always angry, or present a “woe is me” disposition, it will be difficult for people to take you seriously when you give them the good news of Christ.
          Be an example in faith. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He has saved you, and that salvation is available to all? Show it! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Believe it? Show it!
          Be an example in purity. This is so difficult in the twenty-first century, but we must do our very best to avoid sinful situations that will not only compromise our influence but also endanger our eternal souls! How do we do this? Inspiration does not leave us guessing! “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Replace the bad (youthful lusts) with the good (righteousness). Surround yourself with people who want to go to heaven, and who want you to go to heaven with them!
          How does this all relate to evangelism?
          “Everyone hates hypocrisy. Once someone believes you to be preaching one thing and practicing another, all hope for a receptive ear will vanish. You will be tuned out and completely minimized. For you to be a natural evangelist, you need to align your hidden behaviors with your public message. Of course, you are not going to be perfect. You will sin and make mistakes, but blatant hypocrisy will be detrimental to God using you in His mission” (Matthew W. Morine, Natural Evangelism, p. 18).

Discussion and Action

1. How has your behavior affected another person’s perception of the church?

2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses of your example as it relates to 1 Timothy 4:12, and make a plan to improve your weaknesses.

3. Recite the six steps of the gospel plan of salvation and where you can find Scriptures for each step.

4. Memorize the text of another verse in the gospel plan of salvation.

5. Take out your index card of three friends. Add two more names to the list. Keep praying for them looking for opportunities to discuss spiritual matters with them.

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