July 26 I Thursday
“She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’ She kept this up for many days…” —Acts 16:17-18
Lydia was a woman with a tender heart, but Acts 16 also tells of a woman with a tormented heart. She is introduced as a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Not only was she physically owned, abused and exploited by her human masters to make a profit, but she was spiritually owned, abused and exploited by a demonic master.
This woman followed Paul and his group around for days, announcing the whole time that they were “servants of the Most High God” and that they knew the way to be saved. Rather than respond to her or rebuke the demon, Paul ignored her. We are not told why Paul held back for days before commanding the demon to release her, other than the situation greatly annoyed him, but presumably he kept sensing from God that it was not yet the right moment to act. When the time had come and Paul commanded the demon to come out of her, Scripture tells us, “At that moment the spirit left her” (Acts 16:18).
In our eagerness to share the Gospel, we can sometimes speak prematurely, inadvertently turning people off from the Gospel message. Evangelism is not a “one size fits all” process. We must be sensitive to God’s timing and the prompting of the Holy Spirit He places in our hearts. If there is no interest or response, the person is not ready, and our best option is to pray for them.
Brother Andrew, a writer and missionary famous for smuggling Bibles into communist countries, told the story of a day he spent with a non-Christian friend. He went into the day excited to share the Gospel, but he quickly sensed God telling him not to say anything, so he obeyed. At the end of their time together, the friend asked if Brother Andrew had kept quiet because he thought him too far gone to accept Christ. When Brother Andrew explained he had simply felt God telling him not to share the Gospel that day, the friend asked for that very thing. God’s timing had come, and his friend gave his life to Christ.
The question we should ask ourselves is not, “How can I slide the Gospel into any and every conversation?” but, “Am I making myself available when God reveals the right times and opportunities?” Sometimes this means waiting for God to soften the hearts of friends or family or unexpectedly sharing the Gospel with a stranger seated on a plane beside us. God’s timing is perfect, so may we not get so preoccupied with our own expectations that we miss being available to witness for Christ in God’s timing.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, grant me patience and courage to share the Gospel in Your timing, regardless of who it is with or when. Thank You, God.