"It's All About God's Glory Not Yours"
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10: 31)
Evangelism can be a hard painstaking task without immediate reward or visible fruit. Many Christians partake in evangelism for many reasons: being gifted as an evangelist, enjoying evangelism, wanting to save people from going to hell, or obedience to the great commission, etc. Those are all valid reasons for doing evangelism. However, the primary, Biblical reason the Christian evangelizes above any other reason is to glorify God. Paul stated about the glory of God that:
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31)
"“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17)
Paul and the Corinthians
The Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthians who were a problem church and had many serious issues. Some of those issues included divisions in the Corinthian church because they wanted to follow their favorite teacher rather than Christ (1 Cor. 1: 10-13), they had a conflict with baptism (1 Cor. 1: 14-17), they were more interested in Greek and Roman philosophy rather than Scripture (1 Cor. 2: 12-16), they were prideful because of their spiritual gifts (tongues) rather than desiring the greater things (prophecy) (1 Cor. 13:1, 14: 1-5), and they were tolerant of and not practicing church discipline on a young man who was having sexual relations with his step mother (1 Cor. 5: 1-2).
It's no surprise to find Paul exhorting the Corinthians in chapter 10 with regard to the Corinthians measuring their Christianity by the externals such as the food they ate or drank or what day they practiced the Sabbath. Paul was reminding the Corinthians in this section of chapter 10 that the true measure of one's Christianity or relationship with Christ isn't found in the externals, but that the Christian's life glorifies God in everything he does including the externals.
The first catechism in the Westminster Larger Catechism states that: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Have you ever wondered why that's the first catechism in the Westminster Larger Catechism? The reason why the English Puritans made that the first catechism is because if the Christian's main purpose is not to glorify God in everything he does, everything that he does for God will ultimately fall apart. If the Christian's main purpose is not to glorify God as Scripture and the Westminster Catechism advocates, his purpose will be primarily man-centered and his efforts will ultimately fail rather than having a God-centered purpose which is to glorify God in everything he does.
So what does this have to do with evangelism?
Everything! I have seen too many Christians or professing Christians over the years involved in evangelism who measure their whole Christian walk based on how much evangelism they do or how excellent or supposedly perfect their Gospel presentations are and later find out how much of a mess the rest of their Christian walk is. You start to find out that they are involved in some sin that they refuse to repent from, or they want to argue and promote some theological side issue which has nothing to do with the essentials of the Christian faith hence causing division in the body of Christ, but yet they still want to evangelize and have no problems going out evangelizing despite their sin.
The problem is that even though the Christian is saved and continuing to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, he still has a tendency to revert back to measuring his Christian walk by his works rather than what Christ did for him on the cross. In addition, if the person refuses to deal with his sin , that person may be a professing Christian who is not saved at all and measuring his supposed Christian walk by his evangelistic efforts.
So my question to you is how does this glorify God? The answer is it doesn't glorify God at all.
So how can I make sure that my evangelism glorifies God?
Glorifying God in your evangelism is more than just going out consistently to proclaim the Gospel and delivering a theologically perfect Gospel message. It's also leading a holy life which is pleasing and glorifying to God. (1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:16). Your evangelism and the fruits from your evangelistic efforts are a result of a life that is glorifying to God and not vice versa. If you are continuing to evangelize, not leading a holy life, and not dealing with the sin issues in your life, then your evangelistic efforts are in vain and not glorifying to God at all no matter how many times you evangelize or how many people you proclaim the Gospel to. So here are some questions to consider if you want to find out if your evangelism is glorifying to God:
Do you still evangelize despite the fact that you have a sin issue in your life which you haven't dealt with or are ignoring just because you evangelize? (hypocrisy)
Do you judge other Christians because they are not as enthusiastic or as zealous about evangelism as you are and as a result of this, do you bear any animosity toward other Christians or church leaders because they don't have the same zeal as you have rather than being content and trusting in a sovereign God who can change the hearts of these leaders and members of your congregation? (spiritual pride, censoriousness)
Do you desire to lead a holy life and are you actively examining you life for any sin and mortifying those sins in your life or are you measuring your Christianity based solely on your evangelistic efforts? (works)
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should seriously examine your Christian walk, repent of these sins, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you mortify these sins. If this is a continuing pattern in your life, you should seriously consider stepping down from ministry and dealing with these sins prior to resuming your Christian duties of evangelism or any other ministry the Lord has lead you to partake in. Your Christian life and testimony are just as important as your evangelistic efforts or your Gospel presentation. Most importantly, it's all about God's glory not yours.
"Fight the Good Fight of Faith"
Some helpful resources to consider:
Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges
Humility by C.J. Mahaney
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
Holiness by J.C. Ryle
Tony Zabala is currently the lay leader of Grace Community Church's Neighborhood Outreach Ministry located in Sun Valley, California. Neighborhood Outreach is an evangelism ministry which reaches out to the community surrounding Grace Community Church. The views and recommendations from this blog site do not necessarily represent the views and recommendations of Grace Community Church, John F. MacArthur, Grace To You, the Master's Seminary, the Master's College or any other associated ministry.