I believe that Jesus uses similar reasoning when he compares the Kingdom of God to a treasure hidden in a field or a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46). He doesn’t condemn desire in general, as some religions do, but directs our desires to that which is infinitely valuable and worthy of our affection. In other words, he uses a rightly placed joy as a source of motivation. We even see this in Jesus’ own life. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). While Jesus completely followed the Father’s will, he didn’t endure the cross just because he “ought” to, but because of the unparalleled riches and joy that would follow.
In the same way, scripture is filled with promises that, when harnessed properly, can transform our attitude about evangelism from "ought" to "want." These promises show that by boldly sharing the gospel we are pursuing better rewards - our joy, the joy of others, and, most importantly, the glory of God. These rewards far outweigh the rewards of staying silent.
To begin, our attitude should be the same of that as John the Baptist. Early in Jesus' public ministry, John's disciples expressed consternation that people were leaving John's baptism ministry to follow Jesus. John replies, "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:29-30). This ought to be the heart of every evangelist. The point of sharing the gospel is not to bring glory and admiration to ourselves or to earn spiritual merit badges, but to magnify Christ and rejoice when others make much of him. With our hearts set in that direction, I believe that there are five reasons that we can seek joy in the call of evangelism.
The ultimate reason that we can rejoice in the task of evangelism is that God is glorified when we proclaim the gospel, both when it is accepted and when it is rejected. Jesus promised his followers that they could expect rejection and should consider themselves blessed when "people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12). When we are able to rejoice in the face of rejection because we have a better treasure in heaven, it glorifies God, not the approval of people, as our ultimate source of satisfaction.
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4) There are people who will respond to the gospel
Perhaps someday I will do a series of posts on soteriology or the doctrine of salvation. The good news is, whether you are a Calvinist, an Arminian, or don't even know what those terms mean, the following promise of Jesus is still true: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16). It is easy to put pressure on ourselves when sharing our faith, fearing that one misspoken or unspoken word is going to prevent someone from responding to Christ. This verse should relieve those fears and enable us to breathe. Jesus' sheep, those currently outside the fold and not following him, will respond to his voice. Whatever our position on pre-destination, we don't know who those people are, so it is our job to faithfully preach the gospel knowing that it is ultimately the voice of God that leads to repentance. We can trust that what happened in Pisidian Antioch will continue in our day - "When the Gentiles heard this (the gospel), they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48).
When we share something that we love, it deepens and completes our enjoyment of that pleasure. Think about the best meal you have ever tasted, your favorite movie that you could see over and over, or the most amazing sporting event you have ever witnessed. Do you keep it to yourself? No! You tell people about it. You post it all over social media. Sharing the experience with others completes the enjoyment. For example, I almost four years later, I can still talk about the following sporting moment and a huge smile will come over my face. Sorry, Michigan fans, I couldn't resist!
Similarly, we were not made to keep the gospel to ourselves. We are meant to be rivers of God's grace, pouring it out to others who are thirsty for living water, not keeping it to ourselves like a reservoir. Paul exhorts his friend Philemon, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon 6). When we share the gospel, not only do we have the hope that others will experience joy in Christ, but we end up understanding the gospel more deeply ourselves. We better understand the depth of grace that we have received. We more fully grasp that we are not some superior, self-righteous Pharisees, but wretched sinners who have been granted a gift of mercy that we don't deserve. We taste the goodness of God and fathom how high, long, wide and deep his love is that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). That alone, is reason to rejoice.