Have you ever heard the quote, “Preach the gospel every chance you get and even use words if necessary.” At first glance one could conclude that this statement resonates well with 1 Peter 1:14-16,
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [living]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
And then we read in Philippians 1:27a,
“Only let your conversation [manner of life] be as it becometh [worthy of] the gospel of Christ.”
Restating these two passages, a Christian could render, “We are to walk our talk and exemplify Christ through our daily living.” While this is a true statement, the following questions must be posed, “If a Christian lived a godly life before a lost man – yet never uttered a word about Christ before the lost man – how would the lost man know the reason behind the godly life? How would the lost man discern between the Christian’s godly life and an atheist that lived a good moral life?”
Another way to view this issue would be to pose the following question, “What have you done today that only a Christian would do – and by doing so, others would understand that your actions were motivated by your love for the Lord?” In other words, though one may smite you on your right cheek and you turn to him the other also; though a man may sue you at the law and take away your coat, and you also surrender your cloke; though a man compel you to go a mile with him and you choose to go two miles with him; though you demonstrate love to your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you [cf. Matthew 5:38-48] – though you do all of these things, does the onlooker know that you do these things to honor and glorify the Lord, or does the onlooker conclude you do these things for your own honor and glory [because] you never speak the Lord’s name?
In 1 Timothy 4:12, the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy with, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation [manner of life], in charity [love], in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Notice that the exhortation began with, “be thou an example of the believers, in word.” In order for a lost man to understand the “reason” that a Christian lives a godly life – he [the lost man] must hear about the life changing Christ. Then, when the lost man sees the evidence of a life changed by Christ, the conversation [manner of living] will be understood. Romans 10:17 also states,
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
A life lived before the world without acknowledging the One you are living unto – is either a message without a reason or purpose, or it is a life lived for self-glory.
Jesus was asked by His disciples why He spoke in parables. Jesus’ response was recorded in Matthew 13:15-16,
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.”
If a lost man’s “eye-gate” and “ear-gate” are not opened, his “heart” will not understand the reason for our walk with the Lord. Consider the words of 1 Peter 3:15-16,
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation [manner of living] in Christ.”
Our prayer should be that our “walk is consistent with our talk“. But the world needs to first hear our “talk” about the One whom we are “walking” after.