One of the great privileges of serving God is that we are laborers together with Him. Sure, He has given us the command to preach the gospel, but He didn’t leave the work entirely up to us. While we find the ears to hear, He is working on hearts.
When Paul went to Philippi, the first convert the Scriptures record was a woman, Lydia. Acts 16:14 says of her, “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Paul may have been saying the words, but it was God who opened her heart.
When we understand the Lord is working with us to see people saved, it changes how we witness to people. We are not high-pressure salesmen trying to manipulate a quick decision. We are instruments for the Holy Spirit to use as He changes hearts.
God is working in ways we cannot see. Circumstances change in people’s lives. Going soulwinning in the same city several times a year isn’t futile because the people are different every time we meet them. The same neighbor who has never even accepted an invitation might have just found out his child has a serious medical condition. Where his heart was closed before, God opened it through a trial.
We can’t prejudge who is a good candidate for the gospel. We have a tendency to make rushed decisions about people, even when it comes to their responsiveness to the gospel. If they are too rough around the edges with piercings and tattoos, then their hearts are hardened. If they are too well dressed, then they won’t see their need for God. We can always find a reason why someone won’t get saved if we are looking for it.
Remember, we don’t know what God is doing in their hearts. When Jesus met a rich young ruler, he asked the rich man to sell all he had as a test of that man’s heart. When the rich man walked away, Jesus made the famous statement, “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25). This didn’t sound good for rich people, yet in the very next chapter of Luke, the chief tax collector (a very lucrative position) willingly put his faith in Jesus. Then he gave half of his money to the poor and much of the rest as restitution for his corrupt collections!
We don’t know the condition of their hearts until we speak to them about the Lord. It’s only as we share the gospel, one-on-one, that we can begin to see if God is working. Most people are not going to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” They are waiting in line to get a drink (John 4), working a job (Mark 1), or traveling back home (Acts 8) secretly hoping that someone has the answers to the questions they don’t even know to ask.
The first command of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18 is “go.” Unless we go, we won’t have the opportunity to see God work in people’s hearts. Working together with God, we can be the vessels to see His Spirit change lives for eternity.