John Bradshaw - The Salt of the Earth
I'm glad you've joined me today. I'm glad for this opportunity to join you. Before we open up the Bible, let's pray together:
Father in heaven, thank You that we can come to You in Your Word and know that You will speak to us. I pray that as we look into the Bible, we'd be blessed, and we'd hear Your voice, and that You'd draw us to Yourself. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
You know, salt has been very important down through history. In times when it wasn't plentiful, it was very valuable. I read where at one time salt was traded for gold. In the early 1800s, salt was four times more expensive on the American frontier than beef. Roman soldiers were, on occasions, paid in salt. In fact, that's where we get the word "salary" from, from "sal," the Latin for "salt". "Salad," too, that's another word we get from "salt". That comes from the practice of putting salt on leafy vegetables. "Salad" literally means "salted".
There are many good reasons why salt is a good metaphor for Christians. One is that salt is necessary for a person to live. Salt is made up of two chemicals, sodium and chloride. Sodium helps carry nutrients into your body's cells. It also helps regulate your blood pressure and helps your nervous system transmit messages. The chloride is used to make stomach acid to help digest food and kill off harmful bacteria. So the salt that Jesus was talking about in the Bible is something that was essential, necessary, helpful, even life-sustaining. God puts the Christian into the world as salt. People need what we have, what Christians have, so that they can live. If you've got no salt, you die. There are several different kinds of salt. Not all salt is created equal. Real salt is salt in its purest form, such as sea salt.
What you buy in the supermarket is typically refined salt. Unrefined salt is pure, while refined salt has additives in it that are said to make it more palatable. You know, you could say that about Christians. There's no question God wants His followers to be pure, unadulterated, unmixed with any of the junk of the world. Jesus said Nathanial was "an Israelite... in whom" there was "no guile". It's when the Christian starts putting in additives that the purity of our experience, and therefore, the power of our experience, is compromised. One of the characteristics of salt that best represents the Christian is that salt is a preservative. When they figured out that salting various foods caused them to last a long time, a whole new world of exploration opened up as now you could take food with you that lasted for ages. Salt preserves. And Jesus asks that we as Christians preserve, or impart a preserving quality to the world around us.
Let me read to you from the Bible. This is Matthew chapter 5, and we shall pick it up in verse... what do you think? Let's try verse 13. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men". He goes on to use a very similar, um, illustration, similar, but different. He said, "You are the light of the world". But here, you're the salt of the earth. You're to add flavor to the world. You're to be a preservative in the world. You see, God's purpose in showering His grace upon us is so that we can, we can then be agents in saving others. God hasn't just chosen us so that, so that just we can be saved, but also that through the believer the world might receive the grace that brings salvation.
In John 17, Jesus said that He sanctified Himself so that we might be sanctified through the truth. In the same way, a person who has claimed Jesus as Lord and Savior will presess, rather, will possess, saving qualities that serve to preserve the world around her or him. "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus said. So keep in mind, the right amount of salt is good. Too much salt is offensive. Jesus didn't say you are the chili powder of the earth, but the salt. If you get too much salt, which is very easy to do, you could die as a result of that. It's very common for a person's blood pressure to rise, even to dangerous levels, because of over-consumption of salt. Three-quarters of the salt a person consumes typically comes from processed foods, and often where you wouldn't expect it. Bread, breakfast cereals, cheese, cookies, often loaded with salt. Experts will tell you that you need no more than a teaspoon of salt a day. It's easy to get that much by the time breakfast is over.
I remember a time many years ago my little niece was staying in our home. She was little at the time. Now she flies in the air force. She's not so little now. She's a, she's literally a high flier. But when she was a low flier, she mistakenly put salt on her breakfast cereal when she thought she was adding sugar. Oh my goodness, you should have seen her reaction. The look on her face was something I have never been able to forget, and something, frankly, I don't want to forget. Too much salt is gross. I'm sure everyone has cooked something at some time when you've overdone the salt and it becomes offensive. Keep in mind, Jesus says you're the salt of the earth. If you want to be the salt of the earth, remember that the right amount of Christian salt is absolutely good and necessary. But when we overdo it, that's when we can get offensive. When you're discussing the Bible or sharing your faith or witnessing in some way, it's good to know when to pull back and let the Holy Spirit do His job so that you're not just pouring on the salt and becoming offensive.
I don't want to scare you into not saying anything for Jesus. Trust me, most of us are in no danger of overdoing it. But an obnoxious Christian, an offensive Christian, an argumentative Christian can drive people away from God. That's too much salt. Often spouses get too much salt. Colleagues can get too much salt. The badge of Christianity is not merely an outward sign. It's, it's not just the wearing of a cross or a crown. The badge of Christianity is that which reveals the union of a person with God. No other influence that can surround the human being has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. Someone once said, "The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian".
Now, we both know that what salt does, one of the things it does, is it adds taste. We want to keep in mind that for it to do any good at all, salt has to be mingled with the substance to which it is added. It has to penetrate and infuse before it makes a difference. It was often my job growing up in the family home to peel the potatoes and put them on to boil. And I did not do this very often, but there were times I forgot to salt the potatoes. Ugh! You knew right away. The salt sat, literally, in a big container on the back of the stove, on the back, yeah, the back of the stove. The salt was near the potatoes, but if it didn't get in the potatoes, it didn't help. And then if you put it in, you, of course, wouldn't want it to clump down in a corner of the pot. You would want the salt to mix up and get around.
In the same way, it's through personal contact and association that people are reached by the saving power of the gospel. We don't save people in groups. People are saved as individuals. Personal influence is power. If we want to see people saved, we need to come close to people. If you want the tomato sandwich to taste good, you don't just park the sandwich near the salt shaker and hope for the best. It's good when God's people circulate, make friends, volunteer, participate in community events, because we're the salt of the earth. It's not because you want to become like the world, and there's a line here somewhere that you don't want to cross. But as salt, we mingle with a purpose, with a mission. As you're at work interacting with unbelievers, when you're at the gym, wherever you go, you want to be looking for opportunities to share Jesus. They'll come up, and you can be the salt of the earth. You know something? There is a need to be intentional.
I read where "Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people". When you hear that, your ears ought to prick up. "The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed...sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. [And] then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'" It's important that we come close to people by personal effort. I asked a couple of people recently what they thought were the keys to winning people to faith in Jesus. They said unanimously, the most important thing is being friends with people. You're the salt of the earth. You gotta mix up; you gotta add flavor.
People who work with those of other faiths will tell you: relationships. Uh, consider this with me. Let's say you're wondering how to witness to someone of a, of another faith, not a Christian, someone of a completely different faith background. What do you do? Do you rush up with the Bible and say, "Here's why you ought to follow Jesus"? Well, there are times that you can gently suggest those things. But if you don't know that person and you've identified them as being a non-person, a non-Christian, I beg your pardon, why would you, why would they even want to listen to you? Build a relationship. Get to know them.
A friend of mine told a great story. His parents were hippies. They worked in a health food store. A, a man used to come into their health food store, and he'd buy his bread only from them, only from them. If someone else was on the checkout, he'd wander around the store, wait, or leave and come back later. Why was he doing that? He didn't know those people, but God had put it in his heart to build a relationship with them. So before long, he learned their names; he found out something about 'em. They learned his name; they became friends, as friends can, as friendly as friends can be when you've got a checkout between you. Then there came a time that he asked them about their spiritual beliefs. "And would you like to come to these meetings? Would you like to attend the seminar"? "Yes, we would". It wasn't long and they were holding meetings winning people to Jesus Christ. They were sharing their faith. They still are today. Salt of the earth, mixing up, relationships. You know what's important? It's important to find points where you can agree with somebody.
Someone doesn't believe in the divinity of Jesus? Let it go. Talk about it, discuss it, let it go. Someone doesn't believe what you believe about the commandments? Don't make it a hill on which somebody must die. If someone believes differently to you about the Second Coming, don't take offense. That'll be taken care of later on. You build the relationship, and you'll have the opportunity to really share about the things that matter most. When you get into discussions with people, don't be repelled or repulsed by the differences they share. Ask them about those differences. Love them anyway. Be salt. Impart a preserving quality. Impart flavor and improved taste. Mix up. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth".
My brother has been involved in personal evangelism ever since he became a Christian. He's been established or, rather, he's been involved in the establishing of four new congregations. Back, back, I mean, we didn't even call them church plants back in those days. He says one of the most important things in effective personal evangelism is to be a real friend to people. Let me give you an example. He and his wife were working with a couple. The husband had been a big-time methamphetamine dealer. While he was selling drugs, his family had plenty of money, and they wanted for nothing. After they came to Christ, they had nothing. So my brother and his wife essentially provided them with everything they needed so that their family could celebrate Christmas as a family. Do you think that that kindness paid dividends? Oh yeah. My brother accompanied the man to court, acted as his advocate.
Interesting, at one important hearing that my brother decided to attend, one of the key decision makers in the courtroom that day happened to know my brother well through a church connection. And, of course, that had an effect in the way the man was treated. Do you think that man, the former drug dealer, and his wife were grateful to my brother? Yes, they were. Do you think that made it easier for my brother to have Bible studies with them? Oh, sure it did. Were they baptized? Yes, they were. How do I know that? Because I baptized them. They were sweet, committed Christians. Which reminds me. Don't be discouraged by what you see as hopeless cases. I was one of those, and yet the Lord won me. There are a lot of hopeless cases just waiting to be pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth".
My own family, we had neighbors one time across the street from where we lived. We had prayed, "Lord, bring us someone to share Jesus with". Then along comes this family. Covered in tattoos, the man was. And the reason I mention that is... he was... covered in tattoos. And this was really before it was fashionable for every waitress and every grade school teacher, practically, to have a tattoo, or multiple tattoos. He had a dotted line all the way around the neck. And right in front of his throat he had the words tattooed, "Cut here". Not the most savory sort of tattoo. And you might have met that man and thought he's a hopeless case. But we were able to mingle with them as though we desired their good. We had opportunities to minister to their needs. We'd dry their laundry in our dryer. I showed up in court with the man. We took their children to church. Those things spoke loudly to the neighbors. So, you want to be the salt of the earth.
Let me share with you the main, the, the first thing: prayer. If you want to be the salt of the earth, the first thing you want to remember is prayer. It is imperative to pray. God moves hearts in answer to prayer. He does great things. And in praying about this, you can go to God and ask Him to bring people to you to whom you can witness and with whom you can share Jesus. When we moved to one certain part of the country, my wife Melissa mentioned that she would like to have someone to bring to Jesus. So we prayed as a family. And it wasn't long after that Melissa bumped into a woman who recognized her. She had attended a church where I had preached. She attended church very sporadically. When she met my wife Melissa, an instant bond was formed. She asked her about her walk with God, then offered to study the Bible with her, and that's exciting. We asked God specifically for someone we could share Jesus with, and God provided.
So consider what else Jesus said in Matthew 5:13. Not just that we're the salt of the earth, but He said, if the salt has lost its saltiness, it isn't good for much at all. In Mark, Jesus says, "Have salt in yourselves". In Luke, Jesus says that unsalty salt isn't good for putting on a dunghill. God calls us the salt of the earth, but it's evident that in order for us to fill the role God has for us, we need to be salty. We can't be salt if we're not salty. Simply put, you can't share Jesus if you don't have Jesus. We can't share what we don't have. But you know something? If all the oceans of the earth dried up, they would leave enough salt behind to cover the continental United States with a layer of salt one and a half miles deep. There's plenty to go around. Not much danger of running out of salt.
Now, let me share something with you, the A to Z, or the A to Zed, of sharing your faith in Jesus. Okay. If you're gonna teach somebody the alphabet, what letter do you start with? You start with the letter... what? That's correct. A. After A, you teach your kids, A...X? No? A, Q? No? What letter? A, then? Okay, B. But why do you go from A to B? Is B better than Q? No. Is B better than X? No. Um, is B better than E? No, I mean, it's worth more on a Scrabble board, but it's, it's no better a letter. You would probably use more O's than you use B's, but that doesn't make the O better. It just, it makes it different. So after A, you're teaching your child the alphabet. You don't go, A, M, Y, C, J. No, you go A, B, help me out now. A, B, C, keep going, D.
Now, I don't want to challenge you, because we're getting deep into the alphabet now, but we've gone A, B, C, D, and then what? E. That's correct. I have faith in you. I think if I kept on going with this, we could get all the way down to Zed without too much trouble. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, why? Because that's the order that the alphabet is in. Okay. So, let's consider some Bible teachings and ask ourselves what letter of the alphabet they would correspond with. Let's think of, um, salvation. Where would salvation through Jesus come if, if the teachings of the Bible were letters of the alphabet? A? Would it be, A, salvation through Jesus? Would it be C? Maybe it's C because perhaps, perhaps the inspiration of the Scriptures would be A. I mean, I'm not looking for definitive here; we're just throwing some things around here.
So salvation through Jesus, that would be A, B, C, D, somewhere down there, sure it would. But what about, um, Revelation chapter 13 and the teaching of a last-day deception that's going to cause multiple, multitudes of people to be lost, and there'll be persecution in earth's last days, where would that be? Is that A? To hear some people talk, that's A, B, C, D, and E. But really where is it? Would it be, would it be Zed, Z? Naw, probably not Z. Would it be U, V, W, X? U, V, somewhere down there, right? Sure it would. So why in the world would you, would you meet somebody, uh, at the shopping mall, and your shopping cart actually bumps into them in the supermarket, "Oh, I'm so sorry. How are you doing"? "Oh, good, I'm in a hurry. I'm going to church". "Oh, do you go to church? I want to show you something, Revelation 13, mark of the beast! Persecution of God's people"! Whoa!
Now, granted, there may be times when the Holy Spirit says, "You need to talk to this person about this". Maybe. But those times are the exception and not the rule. You're the salt of the earth. Do you accost somebody and tell them that they're worshiping wrong, or...something like that? You, you put away the salt, and you brought out the ghost peppers, the Bhut... what's that one? The Bhut jolokia? Is that the thing? It's like a kajillion times more potent than a jalapeño. Why you start there? Why, why would you start there? How about you'd start, with matters of faith? With the Scriptures, with the Bible? I know sometimes we feel like, oh, we've got to get them, we got to get them with the big stuff. The big stuff will take care of itself. You'll get to that. Start by building bridges, not walls. Start by making connections; don't be disconnecting. That's really important, you understand. That's really important.
What's another teaching of the Bible? Uh, what happens when you die? Is that A? That's not A. Is it Z? That's not Z, either. That would be a little further up than Revelation chapter 14. That would maybe be, oh, I don't know, maybe it's a, a J, a K, an L, an M, somewhere in there. You see what I'm saying? You think about the teachings of the Bible, you don't start with the wrong thing. You want to start with the right thing, and the right thing is always Jesus. Now, what we just looked at is not scientific, it's just good biblical sense, and you'll apply that the right way given the context in which you minister. Look for opportunities to share your faith. Do you realize that they're everywhere? My brother moved to a new city, and, uh, they did not have a car, so he would take the bus to work. And do you know what he'd do?
Oh, here's what he did. Before he got on the bus that first day, he prayed. He said, "Lord, I believe there's someone on this bus that You want to share, that You want me to share my faith with. I believe there's someone here on this bus". He got on the bus, he looked for a seat, he sat down next to a lady, he said, "Good morning," and she said... And so he said, okay, not her, most likely. Got off the bus. Got on the bus the next day, didn't sit there. Sat over here. "Good morning". Ehhh, there was no way there, it wasn't working. The next morning, he sat down next to some guy, "Good morning". "Good morning! How are you"? A receptive individual, at least willing to talk. He didn't pull out his sharing book and say, "Here, read this about the mark of the beast". He said, "How you doing? What's your name"? This is my name. "Where you going? How long you lived here? See you tomorrow". "Yes, I'll be right here tomorrow". They sat on that bus together every day.
My brother is praying, "Lord, show me the way to this man's heart. Give me an opportunity to share my faith with him". One day he's sitting there, and his friend says, "I watched a television program last night about the universe, the planets, the sun, the stars". My brother had been praying, "Lord..." My brother said, "Did you ever wonder who made those things"? And this guy says, "Yes. Yes, I have wondered". And a Bible study was born. And they began to get together every week. They had Christmas dinner together. The man gave his heart to Jesus, chose to be baptized, and studied his way all the way to the heart of Christ. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth". So let's be the salt of the earth and look for opportunities to share our faith. Let me ask you a question. What does it say when we don't share our faith?
Let me share this story with you. I was watching this online, saw it myself, own eyes. There's a, I guess, depending on the circles in which you move, a well-known entertainer; his name is Penn Jillette. He's part of a duo called Penn and Teller. And I believe they have a show in Hollywood where they've been appearing for, not Hollywood, Las Vegas. They have a show in Las Vegas, and they've been appearing there for a long time. Mr. Jillette is an atheist, like an evangelist of the atheists, a hard-core, fully paid-up atheist. He told this story. He told about how one night after a show in Las Vegas, he was shaking people's hands at the door of the theater, and he noticed a man sort of loitering, lurking, waiting. It was clear that the man was waiting to be last. When everyone else had gone, the man stepped forward.
"Mr. Jillette". Shook his hand. "I just want to tell you how thankful I am. That was a great show". And then he said, after exchanging some more pleasantries, "Understand you're an atheist". "Yes, yes, I am. I'm quite the atheist". He said, "I have something for you". He reached into his jacket and pulled out a Bible. He said, "I'd like you to have this. Inside you'll find my home number, my", I don't know, "cell number, my pager number, my every other number I can think of. If you ever have any questions, please get in touch with me. Please". It's interesting what Mr. Jillette said later. He said, "I admired that man. He had something that he really believed in, and he wanted me to have it. So he shared that with me".
And then he said this, he talked about people who believed that they're going to go to heaven, while other people are going to go to hell, and he said, "If we were standing on a street, and I saw a car or something coming straight for you, there would be a time if you weren't stepping out of the way that I would have to tackle you. And I'd get you out of the way". And then he said, "How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize"? This is an atheist speaking. How much do you have to hate someone to not share your faith? Have you thought about that? Do you really care that you're gonna go to heaven and walk on streets of gold, when a guy across the street is gonna perish in a lake of fire? Does that matter to you? If it matters to you, something's gotta goad you to go out of your way and somehow endeavor to share your faith. "Well, he's just gonna say no anyway".
You know that for sure? Has God told you that? If he says "no" anyway, you have shared. And then you pray, you pray, and you share, you pray, and you ask God for an opportunity. You pray and you say, "God, I'm willing to go. Show me where to go". And then you go. "How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize"? There's a question. Another important reason to act as the salt of the earth: unity. A wise man once said to me that a pulling horse doesn't kick. And if you're pulling, if you're doing the work, if you're working, working for Jesus, there isn't gonna be time in your life for kicking. There just isn't. There isn't, you show me a church that's torn apart, and I will show you a church that's not focused on mission. It's just that simple. Reveal a church that's going down the drain, that's shrinking, where there's infighting, and you've revealed a church to me where people are not focused on the work that God gave us to do.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all...nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen". You know what someone once said? When churches are left to inactivity, Satan sees to it that they are employed. That's the fact. Okay, Romans chapter 10, let's turn there. Romans chapter 10 and we're gonna pick it up in verse 13. Romans chapter 10, I think I'm there. I am. Starting in verse 13, the Bible says, "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'"
And then verse 17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". How shall they hear unless somebody tells them? We are called to be the salt of the earth. And remember, when we're witnessing, we're just working with Jesus. Jesus didn't call you to call, to, to make something out of nothing. That's His job. But He calls us to work where He is working. I was in a beach town for work, and, we're at the beach in the water, a number of us. A friend's wife was there. She was a surfer, and I asked her about surfing. She was endeavoring to teach me to surf, but that was a hopeless endeavor if ever there was one. I said, "What's the secret to surfing"? She said, "It's this: All you have to do is catch the wave".
That's what we're called to do as Christians, catch the wave. Find out where God is working and work with Him. When you're sharing your faith, you're working with Jesus, working where He is working. You, you never ran ahead of Jesus, unless of course you were told not to, and then you did. When you were sharing your faith, Jesus had already been there. When you shared a, a tract, a Bible study, an invitation, you had a conversation, turned it in a spiritual direction, Jesus had already been working. We work where He is working. Now, think about this: fishing. I used to live near some of the world's very best trout fishing. I was not a fisherman then, and I'm not a fisherman now. But I had a lot of friends that were very keen fisherman, and here's what I found out. There are different lures for catching different fish. Depends on where you fish, depends what the weather is like, what the water current is like, whether there are rocks present, lots of different things, what time of day. You change the lure you use based on these conditions and what type of fish you're looking for.
When you're witnessing, you change your approach, depending on a variety of factors. You must. If you insist on using just one approach, you'll catch far fewer fish; maybe, maybe you'll catch no fish at all. Sharing your faith would change your life. Remember what Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth". We want to be the salt. We want Jesus to use us. Okay, let me go through some things here. Just, I'll go quickly. If you wanna share your faith, if you wanna be the salt of the earth, what do you do? You pray. Prayer prepares your heart, and God uses prayer to draw people to Christ. Be sure you have a regular devotional time. Assess your current friendships. Do you have someone in your life already you can share Jesus with? It's a good idea to seek, to cultivate those types of friendships. I have a friend who became a chaplain just so he could share Jesus at the military base near his home. That was his sole reason: become a chaplain so he could share Jesus with people that he otherwise could not get to. Look for spiritual interest in an individual. Intentionally build relationships. Be intentional about sharing Jesus in your community.
Now, that might be complicated for someone who wants to remain unspotted from the spoiling influences of the world, but there's no way around it. To reach people, you've got to go after people. You've got to go to where the people are. Some places you just don't go. But pursue people. Pray specifically for opportunities to share Jesus. That's a huge key. Pray that God will bring Bible studies to you. Pray that God will bring needy people to you. They're always there. There are people everywhere wanting to go to heaven; they would go if only someone would show them the way. There are people everywhere who want to understand the Bible, if only they had someone to help them understand the Bible.
My friend was at a hotel. He told me this story about three days ago. And he was talking to a lady, and, and she brought up something of a spiritual nature, and she said, he said, "Would you like to study the Bible"? "Yes". He gave her some It Is Written Bible Study Guides, and he said, "Now, look, I need you to know these kind of talk about some of the prophecies in the Bible. Some of these studies get into the prophecies". And she stopped; it was like she'd seen a ghost or something. He said, "Well, what"? She said, "I was praying this morning that God would send somebody into my life that would help me to understand the prophecies of the Bible". And there he was.
With Bible studies, It Is Written studies, dealing with the prophecies of the Bible. He prayed that day, "God, bring me somebody". God did. You wanna be prepared to be a little bold. Be prepared to take some risks. If you have the right questions to ask, you can get away with being direct. A good friend of mine, he was with a woman I knew, and we were talking, and he just said, "So tell me, how are things with you and God"? How about that? He didn't say, "Are you saved"? He didn't say, "You must believe what I believe". He didn't argue doctrine with her. "How are things with you and God"? How about that? Opened up a conversation, wonderful conversation.
Recently I met a lady at a, a big convention or camp meeting. She told me I was the first pastor she had ever heard preach. I wondered how that was. Her dentist told me that after many years he finally got the courage to show my, evangelistic series DVDs in his waiting room. And people are being baptized as a result. How about that? He finally decided, "I'll share this". And she heard, and we met, and she's now safely in the arms of Jesus. And let me encourage you to do this. Be sure to share Jesus. One mistake often made is when people think they need always to share some challenging doctrine of the Bible. Oh, the Bible doctrines are vitally important. We don't want to be without them. But there's such a need to share Jesus. Christ and His love, it's crucial.
Jesus is often neglected when it comes to witnessing. And when you want to share your faith, listen. Listen, listen, listen, and listen. Listen to people. They often have struggles they want you to hear about. Sometimes it's baggage. Sometimes there's pain being carried that's clouding a situation. We invest in people by listening. And when it comes to listening, listen to what people are saying. Many people don't listen, and therefore they don't hear what others are saying. If you're talking to someone about the commandments, and the person you're talking with mentions how his wife will kill him if he keeps the commandments, you want to hear that and acknowledge that. If the guy mentions going to a church school or to seminary or to the bar, listen. Hear those things. Don't miss what people are saying. It's important.
Commitment to the mission and the message of the church is so important. Simply put, if you're not sold on the product, you're not gonna be much of a salesperson, and I hope you don't mind me putting it like that. People who aren't confident in the message of the church simply aren't effective in personal evangelism, because they don't believe it. You can't share the Bible if you don't believe the Bible. It's important to have a theology that compels you to share your faith with others. And, be prepared to invest in people. There isn't such a thing as drive-through personal evangelism. Sharing Jesus with people takes time.
And let me share with you one last story. Remember what Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth". And we want to be the salt of the earth. I was in an airport waiting to catch a plane, and a man bumped into me, literally. I was moving this way; he was moving that way. Bump! He said, "Oh, I'm sorry". I said, "Oh, I beg your pardon. I'm so sorry". He said, "Oh, that's no problem". I said, "How are you doing today"? And he said, "I'm blessed". Blessed, I thought. Blessed. I thought, okay, I'll play this man's game. I said, "So why are you blessed"? He said, "Oh, it's because of these kids"! He pulled out his cell phone, and he showed me pictures of what were very obviously his two grandsons. He said, "I am so blessed because they are praying for me". I said, "Is that right"? He said, "Yes, and it's because of their prayers that I'm still alive".
Well, what are you going to say next? You have to say, "Tell me more". He'd hooked me, you know? "It's because of the prayers of my beautiful grand-boys that I'm still alive". I said, "Well, how's that"? He said, "I had a terrible heart condition, and I almost died, and I was rushed to the hospital, and I believe I'm alive today because people prayed for me, including my grandsons". And then he did this: Reached into his jacket pocket, and he pulled out a piece of folded up, like, you know, 8 1/2 by 11 paper, folded and folded. He said, "Here's the story right here. Whole story". And he gave that to me, because why? Because when he started his day, he said, "I need to take my testimony with me and look for people to share it with".
And he did. And God brought him someone to share with. That was me, and I was blessed by the encounter. And, of course, on there was a story and a little appeal to give your heart to Jesus. On there was a place that you could go online to get more resources. He started the day intentionally witnessing. He believed that he was the salt of the earth, that he'd been called by God to be the salt of the earth. Hey, how is it with you? How is it with you? We sometimes say, "Oh, I couldn't share Jesus". Why? "Because I don't know enough". You know enough. You know Jesus; that's enough. "Well, I might get asked a question I don't have the answer to". Has that never happened before? Didn't your kids ask you, didn't your friend ask you, didn't your teacher ask you a question that you didn't have the answer to? What did you say? You said, "I don't know". And then you might have said, "But I'll find out".
That's what you say to somebody who asks you a Bible question. "I don't know, but I'll find out". Then you get on a phone to a friend or someone in church or the pastor; you say, "Look, I've got a question here". You see? You say, "Oh, no, I, I share my faith, and no one ever responds". Well, you don't know that. You don't know what happened years later. Not everybody responds immediately. "Oh, I don't think I can ever get it right". Well, you just get it. And say, "Lord, this is all I know. Show me how to do my best, but this is all I know".
How's it working out for you? That man left his house that day determined that he would share Jesus with somebody. God gave him an opportunity. And so he did. How about the next time you leave your house, you leave determined to share Jesus? You pray that God will give you the opportunity. He will. Be prepared. Carry some tracts or little pocketbooks or Bible studies or a testimony, or...something to say on behalf of Jesus, a sharing card. Pray, Lord, today, can You bring me somebody to share my faith with? Can You give me the intelligence to know or the awareness to know that this is an opportunity? Will You bless my little efforts? Lord, would You bless me to be the salt of the earth? Come on, let's pray to that end right now.
Our Father in heaven, You've called us to be the salt of the earth, and, of course, many of us, we look at ourselves and we say, "Oh, that's so far above me. I'm not talented enough, gifted enough, trained enough". But today You remind us that we are all of those things because we're just sharing Jesus. Would You bless our efforts? Would You bring to us somebody that You want us to share with? Would You give us enough courage to open our mouths, to share a tract, a study, a something? And then, Lord, water those seeds that are sown so that in eternity there would be fruit for Your honor and glory. Grow us. Grow Your church. Bless us. Thank You that You've called us to be the salt of the earth. We know that with God, all things are possible, and we thank You today, in Jesus' name. Amen.