Over time I have met people who place lots of emphasis on behavior modification and character building in exhorting fellow believers and that’s great. I’m not condemning that, in fact, the Scripture in 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul speaking to Timothy “…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and purity”. This is crucial to our faith walk, but this is not all-encompassing.
You can agree with me that you have come across one or two persons who almost made you think that they were Christians because of the way they live their lives. That’s why I said earlier that it is not all-encompassing, and we will look at that shortly. I was invited to speak at a conference on “Discovering Your Purpose” and during the question and answer section, a lady asked “must every believer preach the gospel? Can’t just our lifestyle do the preaching? The truth is that God NEVER designed the salvation to be received by looking at the lifestyle of a believer, even though the gospel produces a transformed life. the evidence of one that has received the gospel is seen in the way one lives.
As a Christian, how can an unbeliever know that you are born again if your living contradicts God’s Word? It is because of this understanding, some believers now “prefer” to just allow their lifestyle to speak for itself and it ends there. They believe that they are preaching Christ in the way they dress, in their speech, in decision making and other aspects of their living. That’s not how it has been designed. In the passage, we read earlier about Paul’s writing to Timothy “be an example unto the BELIEVER” (see 1 Tim 4:12). Your lifestyle should be an EXAMPLE to your fellow believers but it should be an ATTRACTION to the unbelievers. As much as your lifestyle should attract the unsaved to you, it can’t get them saved. What can produce a righteous spirit in them is when the gospel is been preached to them and they believe the gospel.
When Paul and Silas were in prison, bound with chains on their arms and feet, they demonstrated a lifestyle of prayer, they produced a miracle. The soldier saw it and wanted to harm himself but Paul shouted, “don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”. The jailer then asked, “sirs what must I do to be saved?”. They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household”. Then they spoke the word of the lord to him and all others in his house (Acts 16:25-32, emphasis added). The jailer was attracted to Paul and Silas because of the miracle he saw as they demonstrated a lifestyle of absolute trust and confidence in God but they needed to speak to him and all his household about the gospel!
So, when unbelievers are attracted to you because of your lifestyle, it is your responsibility to preach the gospel to them. Failure to do this will only result in more behavior modification, thinking that he/she will need to adjust certain things in them to have such a lifestyle not knowing that they need salvation! In as much as you want to live a modeled lifestyle for Christ, you should not be lacking in the ministration of the Word. In fact, without this, you can’t live an effective lifestyle.
Salvation doesn’t come to an unbeliever by your lifestyle but by the preaching of the gospel. Don’t be a lazy believer who just wants his/her lifestyle to present Christ while leaving the preaching of the gospel to the “pastors”. Be a student of the word. Study to show yourself approved unto God (see 2 Tim 2:15). Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (see 1 Peter 3:15). Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season (2 Tim 4:2).