Having a burning hot concern for souls is very important, and a great help for your spiritual life. Part of our armor is having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel (Eph 6:15). I received an email today from a reader, asking how to get a greater concern for souls; and the Lord prompted me to write this article.
1. Concern For Your Own Soul — The first thing that you need to deal with when it comes to having a concern or greater concern for souls is how you are doing in your personal walk with Christ. If you cannot carry enough of a concern for your own soul to perfect holiness in the fear of God, you are not going to have much of a concern for others. The first place to look when you are wanting to increase your concern for souls is to an evaluation of how your concern is for your own soul.
Are you being prayerful, careful, and living up-to-date? Do you have complete victory over all sin? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of God? Or are you lukewarm and filled with your own ways? Or worse yet, having problems with giving in to the flesh and sin? Some of these things are dealt with in greater depth in Christian Discipleship.
2. Endued With Power– Just before Jesus parted and was carried up to heaven, he told his disciples “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem” (Luk 24:47). Jesus told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were “endued with power from on high” (Luk 24:48). In this, we have one of the most important points concerning witnessing.
The Word tells us clearly that “the law and the prophets were until John” and “since that time, the kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it” (Luk 16:16). People were pressing into the kingdom, their names were written in heaven (Luk 10:20), and Jesus was forgiving people’s sins (Luk 7:49). So without going into a whole lot of detail, I would hold that the Bible clearly teaches that people were being born again under the preaching of Jesus.
After the disciples went back to Jerusalem, they tarried and received the promise of the Father. The promise of the Father is the indwelling of the Spirit of God which purifies the heart (Act 15:9) of the inherited sin nature.
There is an important connection between being a witness, and receiving the promise that is made in Acts 1. The disciples were told to “wait for the promise of the Father” and, further, that they would “receive power” and that they would “be witnesses unto me” (Act 1:4, 8). For a more in-depth study, read Promise of the Holy Spirit and What the Promise of the Holy Spirit Does.
3. Jerusalem, Judea, Uttermost Parts of the Earth — The next important point is that the disciples were to “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Act 1:8). I think there is a principle that can be taken from this scripture. First, be a witness in your own block, in your own congregation, in your own town, then to the nearest big city, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.
You should be witnessing wherever you go. It should be a part of your life. You should be passing out tracts as you go throughout your day. You should be praying for people that you meet and talk to, as well as looking for other doors where you may find someone who is interested in the gospel. In the congregation, you should be carrying a concern for those in your midst that are not saved, and letting them know you are praying for them.
In short, witnessing is to become a way of life for you. I guess you could call it Missional Living.
4. Tips To Be More Effective — Doing tract work is just a means to an end. What you are using the tracts for is to open up a conversation so that you can talk to the person about their spiritual needs. You are wanting to form a relationship where you can minister to the person and lead them to Christ. Tract work is more than just going out on Friday night and passing out tracts. It is finding people that have an interest in the Gospel and following up.
This means getting their name, email and phone number, and befriending them. It means getting together with them and discussing the Bible. And it means going and picking them up and bringing them to church meeting.
So with this in mind, you need to be equipped. You need a good supply of tracts, booklets, New Testaments, a note pad, a pen, and some change so you can take prospects to the coffee shop for herbal tea.
5. Pray, Pray, Pray, Then Pray Some More — I do not think there is anything more beautiful than a notebook full of names and phone numbers of people you have contacted through tract work that you pray for regularly. People that you are carrying a burden for. People that you have wept and prayed for. How this must please the Savior!
When we are dealing with souls, everything must be bathed in prayer. Again, if we have not carried a proper spiritual concern for ourselves and have learned how to have a proper devotional life, we will not be able to pray fervently and effectually for others.
As you pass out tracts, you need to carry a burden for the people. Greet them with a “Isn’t it a nice day?” and bless them with “The Lord bless you!” as they accept or reject your tract. Exhort them as they pass by with “Are you concerned about your soul?” and “Have you fed your soul today?”, and do it with a concern. It makes the world of difference.
While some of us are more emotional than others, I can tell you that laboring for souls with heartfelt concern is very fulfilling. Many times I have come back from the street with a smile on my face and a huge blessing in my soul, thinking that I probably got more help than those that I talked to.
I have had blessed times when talking with people about the need of their soul where I had to make an effort to keep my composure so that tears of my burdened heart would not fall. Many times I have experienced a deep burden for souls where I just weep many tears as I pray for them. And yes, I have written much of this article with tears in my eyes.
6. Standing on the Word– Here are a number of beautiful scriptures that you should memorize and stand on as you work to reach souls:
Psa 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Ecc 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Ecc 11:4He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
Isa 55:11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Hos 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Mar 12:30, 31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Luk 6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
1Cor 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7. Make a Commitment — Will you kneel and pray now and repent for your lack of concern? I am repenting for mine. Will you make time for Jesus, first for your own soul and then for the souls of others?
Would you put aside some time today and meditate on the joy and zeal you had when you were first saved, and how you wanted to tell everybody about Jesus? Then repent for having grown cold and having lost that first love. Will you renounce the luxuries of this world and commit to live within your means so that you will have more time to work for Jesus?
Carrying a heartfelt concern for the souls of others is not an option, it is a commandment (Mar 12:31). Our love for the Savior is shown by our love for others (Mat 25:40).
It would be my prayer that you will take time to meditate on these scriptural principles and let them sink down into your ears and into your heart. That you will take time for the Lord to speak to you concerning these things.
Time is short and our life will soon be over. Only that which is done for Jesus will last. May the Lord bless you as you consider these thoughts.