Is failing to proclaim the gospel a sin?
If a Christian does not attempt to fulfill the Great Commission… is that a sin?
These thoughts have gnawed at my conscience. Layers of guilt tend to pile up over missed opportunities.
God provides a remedy. He not only clears consciences with full forgiveness of our sins, he also provides an example from the story of a notorious, public sinner.
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus gives final instructions to go and make disciples of everyone.
Jesus’ commission for all believers to proclaim the gospel is not an option, it is an assumed responsibility. This was God’s way, his strategic plan, his purpose for the Church – to go and reach the lost sheep. Jesus died for all people and the good news of what he has already done needed to be shared with others. Through the message, salvation is received by faith.
To refrain from providing this message to others is contrary to God’s purpose for his Church. When a believer in Christ abdicates their responsibility to proclaim the gospel, it is a sin.
If you are reading this and feel the walls of defensiveness build up, that is normal.
If you feel cords of guilt entangle your soul, then you are not alone.
God provides an example for us how to respond when confronted with sin that can have a dramatic effect in carrying out God’s great commission.
That example is King David.
After the prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin, note how he responds.
There was an immediate acknowledgement and confession of his sin.
He did not try to defend his sin.
He suffered the consequences of his public sins, but let go of lingering guilt.
Despite his sinfulness, in God’s eyes, he knew he was a man after God’s own heart.
With a heart overflowing with thanksgiving for God’s forgiveness, he was transparent in his emotions, devotion, and desire to follow God.
Perhaps adultery and murder are on a whole different playing field with personal consequences for committing those sins.
Perhaps there are no personal consequences when a believer does not proclaim the gospel…
Or is there?
Lost sheep remain lost. Lost coins remain hidden. And the consequences of unbelief are too dire to fathom.
I confess that I am a sinful evangelist.
I need God’s forgiveness for my sins of commission. I have completely blown it when presented with opportunities to proclaim the gospel. Father, forgive me for what I have said, and especially those times when I have not spoken the truth with love.
I need God’s forgiveness for my sins of omission. I have completely blown it and walked away silently from amazing opportunities the Lord has provided to plant the seeds of the gospel.
Whether sins of omission or commission, they are too numerous to count.
God will not love us any less if we, as believers, deliberately choose to refrain from proclaiming the gospel with a lost soul.
Just yesterday, I noticed an older man shoveling the driveway of a widow. I could tell he was tired. The snow was wet and very heavy. I initiated a conversation and offered to help. Male pride being what it is, he initially declined. But I persisted. Afterwards, we visited for a few minutes then I hurriedly said goodbye and walked home. I had built a wonderful bridge with the man, but failed to walk across and introduce Jesus.
I confessed my sin and God took away my guilt. I was reminded that I am a redeemed child of God who is fully forgiven because of what Christ has already done for me.
God does not want us to do anything that is prompted by guilt — including sharing the gospel. When that happens, there is a tendency to be impatient, frustrated, and easily flustered.
Basking in his complete forgiveness, absorbed by his grace, and filled with the fruits of the Spirit, the simple words of the gospel come pouring out to people the Lord has placed in our lives. We are men and women after God’s own heart. And he is well pleased.
“O Lord, forgive me when I have refrained from sharing the message of the gospel with others. Thank you. With full assurance and confidence that all of my sins have been wiped clean because of your grace, may you provide in me Your Holy Spirit to be conscious of opportunities to plant seeds of the gospel. I lean totally on your Spirit for strength, courage, and the words to say, because you promised that you would provide all of these. So, I am taking you at your Word. And I ask that you provide a unique opportunity just for me to share the message of the gospel as you have commissioned all believers to do. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being your messenger. Amen.”