Not With the Wisdom of Words

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”
1 Corinthians 1:17 (NKJV)

I can remember the first time I officially shared the gospel. I was pumping gas at a Chevron station on the corner of Russell Cave and New Circle back in the late nineties. It was cold and evening had come. A woman pulled up on the opposite side of the pump.


I smiled. She smiled. She started pumping her gas. She mentioned something about gas prices and Kentucky weather, how they were both unpredictable.


That was my cue. Despite the cold breeze, I immediately felt my hand get sweaty on the gas pump handle. My heart rate increased. There was a swooshing sound in my ears and I had a strange tightness in my gut.


This is it, I thought.


I smiled. “Yeah,” I said. “But I know one thing that is predictable.”


I can’t remember the actual words that I said, or in what order I said them, but somehow I got the entire gospel presentation out.


We finished pumping our gas, went inside to pay, and as we said goodbye, she said she’d think about what I’d told her, but she wasn’t ready to make any big decisions at that time.

Now, decades later, I think about that time. I’m glad I didn’t walk away from that Chevron station thinking I’d done and said everything perfectly. And, as much as I know all of heaven rejoices when one dead sinner is made alive again, I’m also thankful the woman on the other side of the pump didn’t have some radical and immediate conversion.


Because if I had spoken with the tongues of angels, if the heavens had split open with a tremendous light and shined down upon this fresh-saved soul, I probably would have thought it had a lot to do with me.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I do pray the Lord drew this woman to His side, that she heard the truth of the gospel, and that the Lord gave her faith to repent and believe and walk out His calling on her life.


I do pray that I didn’t mess up the message.


But mostly, I pray that the cross of Christ is bigger in my own heart than the wisdom of my words.

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What about you? Is your eloquence more important than your heart condition? Here is a passage to meditate on: John 3:27-36 from The Living Bible Translation

John replied, “God in heaven appoints each man’s work.  My work is to prepare the way for that man so that everyone will go to him. You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him—that is all.  The crowds will naturally go to the main attraction—the bride will go where the bridegroom is! A bridegroom’s friends rejoice with him. I am the Bridegroom’s friend, and I am filled with joy at his success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

 “He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. I am of the earth, and my understanding is limited to the things of earth.  He tells what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Those who believe him discover that God is a fountain of truth. For this one—sent by God—speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit. The Father loves this man because he is his Son, and God has given him everything there is.  And all who trust him—God’s Son—to save them have eternal life; those who don’t believe and obey him shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God remains upon them.”


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