"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith."
1 John 5:4
Why do we bother dealing with sinners?
I attended a boxing match the other night and it was by far the most action-packed evening I've experienced through the Floyd Patterson Boxing Club. This was my third match I've attended and every bout exciting from beginning to end. This recent one, however, buries the needle on intensity. Here's why I believe this is the case: The first two fights I attended had beautiful weather all day throughout the entire travel radius. Everyone who had a long drive didn't have to risk much on the way there or back. This most recent fight, however, had a full-blown blizzard going on in the middle of it. Fighters and their supporters were driving up to 5 hours to get there, then had to drive the same distance home in horrible driving conditions. That didn't stop a single person, every fighter who signed up showed up. The other two fights had a lot of people drop out for one reason or another, but not this time. This means everyone who showed up came there for one purpose: to win their fight, or to support their fighter. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
It would have been very easy for everyone to tell the host of the fight that he ought to postpone the event to a date with better weather. They hypothetically could have convinced him nobody in their right mind would be caught dead in that blizzard and he was just wasting his time. I'm sure there might have even been naysayers who in their mind accused him of putting people at risk. However, anyone who thought that would have been wrong! It worked out because everyone involved understood how important the fight was to them. The blizzard didn't even really start until the fight was almost over, so everyone had a chance to get out of there before things got bad. So what did anyone have to worry about?
Christians are found in this same boat very often. We see the challenge that lies ahead in sharing our faith with a sinner. We see how angry and ugly people are toward the things of God. We see the look on people's faces when they hear us talk about "religious" things. We hear the excuses, the taunting, the objections, the accusations and sometimes even the threats. It's very easy to convince ourselves it's not worth the trouble. We can just lift our hands and say, "Come quickly Lord Jesus..." then sit and wait while twiddling our thumbs. It's easy to make excuses about what the Bible says in the Great Commission, or to redefine what it means. However, are we doing anyone any favors? Are we being obedient in our excuses? Are people coming to know Christ through our sitting and waiting for His eminent return?
There were three major events that occurred that night:
First, there was an amazing display of boxing skills when a young man faced an opponent more than a foot taller than him and prevailed. Being taller is generally an advantage in boxing because they usually have longer arms, resulting in reaching their opponents first. This was truly a David and Goliath situation. The shorter man used his skills and training to out work his taller opponent, making it harder to hit him. We can learn a lot from him in the sense that we can make small targets of ourselves. How can we do that? We need to exercise self-control, particularly over our tongue. Start with being careful how you behave on social media. That stuff never goes away! How we respond to accusations, objections and insults to the faith is a witness in and of itself. If we handle things right, it wears out our enemies and disarms them.
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless."
"A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."
Secondly, there was the best rallying I've ever seen in a fight. One of the fighters took a serious hit below the belt, which is actually illegal in boxing.
Yeah, this guy was hurting bad, and can you blame him? I have to say though, as soon as this young man gathered himself together, his opponent immediately regretted dealing that low blow. The last minute of that fight was solid as a rock with everyone cheering for the injured fighter, resulting in his victory! I'm sure if you've ever entered into a conversation with a hostile unbeliever, you know the "tolerant open-minded ones," it's likely you walked away in pain on some level. When you find yourself in that situation, take a moment to catch your breath and come back fighting. If they're being openly hurtful to you, people listening in will begin to sympathize with you as long as you keep your composure. These are the situations when rallying back can really win souls. Maybe not the soul of the one you're witnessing to, but someone can be saved by it. I've had the privilege of preaching the Gospel with a hostile unbeliever heckling me. The result was twice as many people began to pay attention. So remember, how you handle life's low blows can win your fight!
Lastly, there was the first official KO I've seen live in amateur boxing. The picture at the top of the article is from that fight. This was a spectacular KO for sure! It happened in the first minute of the first round. The KO is the only sure-fire way to win a boxing match beyond the shadow of a doubt. It ends the fight as soon as the count is over and it is an incredibly satisfying feeling winning that way. There are other ways to win, you can win the decision by the judges by showing the best skill the entire time. Or you can stop the fight by wearing down your opponent physically or psychologically. This is similar to a KO, but it's called a TKO (technical knockout). Every boxer trains and fights with the intent to knock out his opponent, we should train and fight to see people repenting of their sin. It's an equally satisfying feeling to watch a sinner pass from death to life as you speak the Word of God into their soul. There's always victory of some sort when you share your faith as long as you keep going. You might see the results right away, or you might not see it until you stand before the Lord in glory when everyone who got saved because of you will be with you in Heaven.
Evangelism is no easy task. There is nothing in the Bible about preaching the Gospel comfortably. It's hard, it takes training, conditioning, practice and a serious drive to win souls for the Lord. What are the consequences of a sinner dying in his sins? An eternity in hell is something we shouldn't want even our worst enemies to go through, so why make excuses about not doing it?
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise."
If you can't bring yourself to share the Gospel out of a drive to see the lost saved as you are, perhaps a stronger warning from the Lord will wake you up.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul."
Is it all worth the trouble? Ask the Christian who shared the Gospel with you and brought you to faith, was it worth it to them? Now, get out there and show the world what it means to fight until the bell rings!