“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:8, ESV)
Evangelism is a selfless act.
Evangelism is not done for any personal benefit. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits personally when you share the gospel. You feel closer to Jesus, for you realize that “He is with you” as you make a disciple (Matt. 28:18-20). There is great joy and celebrating in heaven and on earth when one sinner repents upon hearing the good news (Luke 15:7, 10). But our motives cannot be selfish. In fact, they must be selfless.
If you’ve ever talked with someone about Jesus, or church, or shared the full gospel, then you know this to be true. For some, selflessness looks like overcoming the fear of speaking with a stranger. For others, it looks like overcoming the fear of speaking to a family member or close friend about their need for Jesus. For others, it looks like spending extra time to build a relationship with someone so your evangelism is sincere; so that the person doesn’t feel like a project.
For others, it may involve time off of work and away from family to travel for the purpose of making Jesus known where He is not known. For others, it may mean frequenting the same Starbucks or restaurant to become acquainted with those who work and frequent there as well, in order to win a hearing for the gospel. For others, it may mean putting certain rights aside - like the right to be upset when you’re hurt - so that the other person can see forgiveness firsthand.
Whether you share the gospel with your child, parent, family member, friend, co-worker, or stranger, every encounter will involve being selfless to make the gospel known.
Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Thessalonians, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves.” Paul knew evangelism - sharing the gospel - would be a selfless act every time.
At the root of every selfless act, however, is love. Love is the supremacy of selflessness. When you love someone, you will do more for them than for yourself. That’s what love does - it denies self for the benefit of the other. So, if evangelism is a selfless act, then what must be at the root of our evangelism? Love.
Evangelism is a loving act.
Love is at the root of the gospel. God loved us and sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16). Jesus loved us and laid down his life for us (John 15:13). Because Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy loved the Thessalonians, they selflessly shared the gospel & themselves with them. First the Thessalonians had become very dear to them. Then Paul shared the gospel. Likewise, love must precede, and accompany, our evangelism.
So, who do you love? With whom will you selflessly share the gospel?