Preaching the gospel, use words “when necessary”?

Today’s “Rightly dividing the Word” – A popular (for some reason) yet entirely misguided quote that circulates in Christian circles tells us to “preach the gospel everywhere you go” and “when necessary, use words.”
Just when it could be unnecessary to use words to proclaim the good news the quote fails to tell us, though. The gospel is the message that Christ died for our sins and rose again, so that all who put their trust in Him alone can be saved. As Christians who proclaim this truth, we should seek to live in such a way that our actions dress that message in an attractive outfit whenever possible, but we could never be so holy in our actions that it would excuse us of our responsibility to proclaim the gospel with words. We can give to the poor, but they cannot be saved by our generosity, so our giving cannot be called preaching the gospel. We can be kind, patient, loving, smiling, forgiving people; but no one under any circumstances could be saved by watching our actions. An answer explaining the reason for our hope will always have to accompany our actions if we will preach the gospel. With the gospel, it is show AND tell. So, as one pastor rightly put it, one could no more preach the gospel without words than he could give you his phone number without digits.
The Bible does not tell us that faith can come by seeing our good behavior, but only by hearing the word of God. God’s word asks how can anyone believe without hearing the word? The answer—they can’t. “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
While righteous acts are necessary, please don’t comfort yourself if you remain silent about Christ and the need of others around you to be saved by telling yourself, “I’m preaching the gospel by my actions, and if they want what I’ve got, they will approach me.” It is show AND tell, not one or the other.
So let’s start passing around a new quote: “To preach the gospel everywhere, remember that it is always, every time, without exception, necessary that you open your mouth and use words.” And then, more importantly, a quote from the Bible: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.”

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