Evangelism

by Stan Mitchell

I have always been fascinated with David’s state of mind when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to hide his actions by murdering her husband, Uriah the Hittite. It’s not as if David, brought up in Jesse’s godly household, the man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), was unaware that adultery and murder were wrong.

Yet right up to the day of Nathan the prophet’s message, and that memorable ending to the sermon: “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7), David seems to have maintained the fiction that he had been living uprightly.

How cold he do that? What mental trick had he been playing on himself to hide the obvious, that he had done things that were profoundly wrong in God’s sight?

There was some pretty stunning self-deception going on here! If only this self -deception were all that unusual.

Yet when he writes Psalm51, his attitude seems to have turned around completely. The man once in denial now expresses remorse in a confession as beautiful as it is unusual in human history. It’s hard, after all, for humans to admit fault.

The broken and contrite David, in the midst of his profoundly heartfelt outpouring of grief over his sin says something extraordinary:

“Then [that is, after God forgives him], I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalm 51:13).

Which raises a great question: Is it a really good idea to have a sinner like David be an evangelist, the one to proclaim God’s message to others?

And this question leads naturally to another: What other kind of evangelist is there?

The only gospel proclaimers I know of are ones who have made mistakes. This is, by the way, not a bad thing. An evangelist who knows he too has made mistakes will be patient and compassionate, not judgmental and harsh to those he seeks to save.

“Evangelism,” D.T. Niles once said, “is just one beggar telling another beggar where to get food.”

David was not a perfect evangelist. No one is. But he would from now on be humble and contrite in his proclamation, as he was in his living. Men who have sinned, preach to men who have sinned.  You don’t have to be perfect to preach a perfect savior; you have a perfect savior so you can preach!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan began preaching in 1976, and worked in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He served as preacher with the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He was Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He was married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He authored five books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs; Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song; Equipping the Saints for Ministry; and Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation. Stan passed away 19 Feb. 2019.

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