After 40 years in the desert, Moses’ confidence in his skills and good education was very low. To lead the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, he’d first have to negotiate with Pharaoh and then motivate and organize them to depart.
He was convinced that his success required eloquence: “Moses said to the LORD, ‘O LORD, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’
The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (Ex. 4:10-12 NIV).
It’s good to learn to communicate effectively, but the success of the Christian message depends on our ability to let God speak through us. Depending on God yields higher dividends than eloquence.
In fact, the apostle Paul was convinced that sometimes eloquence could hinder God’s work in the listeners’ souls: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
Does it matter how we present God’s message? Do conviction, clarity and logic play any role in Christian communication? The apostle asked for prayer that he might communicate God’s message “clearly.”
Then he encouraged his readers to speak God’s message with words “always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:4,6). Paul knew that only God’s Spirit could convert a soul, yet he tried to “persuade” his listeners (2 Cor. 5:11).
While we depend totally on the Spirit to work, we should give the presentation of God’s message our best effort Which of these is your strength, the quality of your dependence on God or the quality of your presentation? Maybe we should work at improving both.
By Philip Nunn
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