For I Am Not Ashamed...

Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

One of my pet peeves is when Christians, well meaning though they may be, make a connection between the lifestyle of the one who proclaims the gospel and whether or not the hearer will receive the message. The argument can take many forms: “we have to walk the walk so that we can talk the talk,” “our actions speak louder than words,” “our lifestyle must be consistent with our message,” and so on.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Should our lifestyle be consistent with the message? Of course. As St. Paul wrote, “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? May it never be!” But to say that our actions help or hurt the reception of the gospel is to deny both the grace and the power of God. We readily give lip service to God’s grace toward the hearer; we rightly say that without it no one would ever believe the message. But we forget that God’s grace is likewise bestowed on the speaker. God’s grace overcomes the sin of both the receiver and the sender. In addition, God’s power overcomes our weakness. It is not my place to speak of the sins of others, but the person who was instrumental in presenting the gospel to me wasn’t living what is typically considered to be “the Christian life.” When God took a 2x4 to me, the behavior of someone else didn’t even enter my mind. He demolished all of my objections in an instant.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” We forget that “not of your own doing” also applies to those whom God uses to proclaim the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
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