So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. ESV 1 Thessalonians 2:8
If you know anything about me, you know I’m not evangelistic at all. I love discipleship, Bible study, and leading people closer to the Lord Jesus, but I don’t know how to do that with unbelievers. I realize others are gifted in evangelism, and I’m not; and on one level that’s fine. However, on another level, God has called all of us to share our faith, and for that reason I’m praying and working toward learning how to lead others to the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul gives some of the best advice in the verse above.
First, Paul indicates he was “affectionately desirous of you.” He really loved the Thessalonians, even before they were saved. In short, he loved people. One of my best friends is gifted in evangelism, and his wife says simply: “you love people.” If we don’t genuinely love people, how can we expect to share the gospel with them. If we don’t love people, perhaps it’s because we haven’t spent enough time meditating on the gospel and God’s love for us in our sinful state. Secondly, while Paul obviously wanted to share the gospel, he was also willing and ready to simply share life with the Thessalonians. I had dinner with some good friends tonight that are quite effective at evangelism. I asked their secret, and they said “We are just normal with people.” They simply do life with others–pool parties, work groups, ball games. In the course of life, God brings people to them with spiritual questions. Finally, Paul indicates the Thessalonians had become “very dear” to him. If we genuinely love people and share life with them, they will become very dear to us. When this happens, we have an even greater burden to share the gospel, and they have an even greater respect for us enabling them to hear it.
In short, this simple verse lays out an effective evangelism strategy. While I’m still not gifted in evangelism, I’m trying to develop this love for people and this desire to do life with others. In God’s time, and in His way, He will open the door for the gospel. May you join me in living this way.