The prophet Jeremiah made the observation that "the heart is deceitful above all things'' (Jeremiah 17:9a). Understanding this puts us in an advantageous position. Recognizing our tendency to deceive ourselves empowers us to be a little more skeptical about our own conclusions and excuses.
The New Testament from the Great Commission onward demonstrates the church's responsibility to create disciples of Jesus by sharing the good news with the world. But sometimes we find ways to rationalize avoiding that call. We tell ourselves that we'd gladly do so if it wasn’t for this situation or that obstacle.
It's not helpful to shame ourselves or condemn ourselves for not getting it right, but we do occasionally need to look at the things we do or avoid and ask some tough questions. What are the reasons I sidestep opportunities to tell others about Jesus? Are those reasons legitimate?
As we invite the Lord to search our hearts and reveal our true motivations to us (Psalm 139:23–24), we can grow in our ability to love and serve Him and others.
Here are four excuses we sometimes use to avoid sharing the gospel. This isn't an exhaustive list. There are other reasons we avoid telling others about Jesus. But if you find yourself struggling to share your faith, these might give you a good jumping off point for considering why.
1. I don't know what to say
There are a lot of tools available for sharing the gospel. But don't let these tools give you the impression that it's something that can only be expressed by professionals. The gospel isn't that complicated, and we should all be able to articulate why we have put our trust in Jesus.
Ultimately, you want to be able to give a reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15), so don't worry so much about communicating the gospel perfectly. Just know why it is that you believe, and be willing to share that.
If you want to lead someone to other resources, don't forget that Jesus Film Project® has films available in many languages, which can be extremely helpful. In fact, the Jesus Film Project app is completely free and available on Apple and Android devices. It's an easy way to access and share our films.
2. I don't have the "gift of evangelism"
In Ephesians 4:11–13, Paul talks about the various roles that Jesus equips people with, and one of them is "evangelist." At some point, people started talking about this role as a gift that only certain people possessed. But there is a massive difference between an evangelist (people who help equip believers to share their faith) and evangelism (the call for all believers to share their faith).
The Great Commission was given to us all. As followers of Jesus, we're all called to go into our world and make disciples. The call to share the gospel isn't meant for a specially empowered group of Christians.
3. I don't know any non-Christians
In cultures where Christianity is more prevalent, it's pretty easy to find ourselves in exclusively Christian spaces. People find themselves surrounded by Christians at church, school and work, and before too long, they don't really have any friends who don't know about Jesus.
One of the critical elements of the Great Commission is the call to "go and make disciples." This doesn't necessarily mean that we all need to head off to another continent, but it does suggest that we should be strategic about sharing our faith. And that includes being intentional about building relationships with people who have yet to respond to the gospel.
4. I don't know how to answer their questions
A lot of emphasis gets placed on having the correct answers and providing better arguments for the gospel. And that makes sense if it's entirely upon us to convict and convert others to Christianity—but it's not. Jesus tells us that "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them" (John 6:44a). In the end, it's not the prowess of our arguments and answers that leads people to Jesus. It's our willingness to make ourselves available.
You don't have to have all the answers. In fact, sometimes it's helpful if you don't. People need to see that it's OK to have faith even if they still struggle to understand certain elements. Don't be afraid to point people to other resources or individuals to have their questions answered.
Telling others about Jesus
No matter what reasons we have for not sharing the gospel, the remedy is always the same. Just start doing it. It doesn't have to be forcing someone to have a huge conversation. It's just a matter of stepping out in faith and talking about who Jesus is, why He's important, and what He's done for you. The more you do it, the easier you discover it is.
In fact, it might be just as simple as saying, "Hey, I have a film that I think you might be interested in." Familiarize yourself with Jesus Film Project's library; you might be surprised at how often opportunities come up for you to share with the people around you!