Start with a Bridge

Let all that you do be done with love. - 1 Corinthians 16:14

Sometimes when Christians share the gospel, I think they unnecessarily offend their listeners. They insult them. But that is not necessary. There is already a built-in offense in the essential message of the gospel. Let's not add to that. It has been said, "No one should ever preach on the topic of hell without a tear in his eye." Yet some preachers who talk about hell almost seem delighted by the fact that people are going there. We should share the gospel with compassion.

When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman, He didn't initially confront her about her scandalous life and her immorality. Instead, He appealed to her inner thirst. He ultimately confronted her with her sin, and there is a place for that. But first He built a bridge and established a dialogue with her.

The apostle Paul understood this principle as well. When he was brought before Herod Agrippa, he found common ground and built a bridge to his listener. This was not flattery on Paul's part. He was telling the truth. Agrippa was steeped in the ways of the Jews. He knew all about Jewish culture and customs. He knew the teachings of the Jewish prophets.

But Agrippa was an immoral man. A rumor was circulating that he was involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister. Paul could have brought this up. He could have said, "You are a wicked man, Agrippa, and everyone knows it." But he didn't do that. He built a bridge. He was respectful.

So when possible, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener as you are sharing the gospel. You will be off to a great start in sharing biblically, understandably, lovingly, and compassionately.