1 Corinthians 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
1 Cor 13 is a popular chapter read as one of the readings at weddings, in secular settings and in churches alike. I think one of the verses which gets glossed over and ignored is always the first verse. Paul explains basically how the Gospel can be turned off by sharing the Good News without love in his heart, he will just sound very annoying.
Turning off the Gospel is rather common among believers to unbelievers and often because the believer is self unaware of this. All the unbeliever is hearing is annoyance, not conviction, but a state of irritation. The Gospel thus is tuned out, turned off, and not heard.
So how does this happen? Coming from a decades long sales career it is quite easy to see, but not so easy if you are not self-aware. The annoyance is that the unbeliever does not see what you are trying to convey because most likely you are not relating to them. You are coming across has always been born-again, no past life, no sin, just a “goody two-shoes zombie bible banger” preaching Jesus Christ. Do you see the problem?
The problem is if you are not sharing your own former life of sin, the unbeliever becomes suspicious. And I see this often. It is like the believer wants to totally dismiss their walk in darkness because now they are walking in light. Impression and perception are natural human characteristics. Even young children, I would dare say more so, can pick up on impression and perception quite easily.
1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.“
Paul eliminates that perception and impression for example when he said he was the “chief of all sinners”, meaning the worst. Are you as honest? Do you explain to the unbeliever that you were a dreadful wicked rotten totally depraved sinner, worse than most? Or do you come across as have never struggled with sin your life. Because if you are not conveying this, you are turning OFF the Gospel which saved you.
The unbeliever’s view without a sharing of the believer’s own struggle with sin is self righteous hypocrisy. You are saying “place your faith alone in Jesus Christ”, but not expressing by your OWN testimony why this was necessary! Without realizing it, you turned off the Gospel. The unbeliever is thinking “why is this person wasting my time?”.
I get it, our past lives should not be dwelled upon as in living it again, however, we cannot forget our past lives because it tells others WHY the Good News worked! So don’t ignore it, or discard it, it is part of your testimony! Let me give a couple of examples.
The first person shows up and comes across as always been saved. They preach repentance without sharing any of their own struggles with sin. The second person shows up and explains in detail how dreadfully rotten they were before Jesus saved them without the slightest condition, and how that salvation changed their life. How they struggled with sin and how they depend on the Holy Spirit. Which person do you believe turned off the Gospel? Hint: It wasn’t the second person.
A Scriptural example comes from Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee and tax collector. Read this example in your Bible to see who Jesus goes home justified. So many come across as that Pharisee without realizing it! Don’t be that Pharisee! Share your HONEST testimony and you will not turn off the Gospel! Put yourself back in that place before Jesus saved you, go back to it, and share it, it will express the Gospel of salvation and why it is so awesome! Remember always, you too were an awful unbelieving sinner at one time just like that person you want to share the Gospel with. Don’t unknowingly ever turn off the Gospel!