Open Doors

We love to visit my mother in sunny warm Florida. On one visit, as we were having dinner in her waterfront condominium, I did something I don’t remember doing in a long, long time.

I obliged my daughter’s request to get her a soft drink from the balcony, which was directly behind me. As I got up out of my seat and turned, I took a step or two and was met by something solid – glass met face. Ouch!  

The sliding glass door to the balcony was closed. I obviously didn’t see that it was closed. Had I perceived that reality, it would have saved me some unnecessary embarrassment and pain.

In the evangelistic process, doors are components on which we want to fix our spiritual eyes.  For when we attempt to go through doors that are closed, we may say “ouch” unnecessarily. But when they are open, we can walk through and more effectively fulfill our role as we partner with God in His Kingdom building project called the Great Commission.

What is a spiritual door in personal evangelism?  

It is an opportunity to share the gospel message. More specifically, it is an opportunity to verbally proclaim the gospel. Now, we can always love people, pray for people and serve people by showing God’s love in deed. This should be a constant component in our witness. But in order to share verbally with someone that Jesus died for our sins, rose again on the third day so we can be forgiven, reconciled to God, and experience abundant and eternal life through faith in Jesus – the door needs to be open.

Praying for Open Doors and Open Hearts

The Apostle Paul experienced both open doors and closed doors in his missionary life, as you and I will in ours.    

In Colossians 4:2 he asked the Church in Colosse to pray that “God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.” Sometimes doors are open, other times they are closed.  And in the mystery of God’s providence, it is He who opens doors and He who can actually close doors. Now people alone also close doors to us, for I’ve had many people tell me, “I don’t want to hear about your Jesus!” How about you?

In Acts 16:14 we see an open door for Paul at Philippi as Lydia receives the Lord – “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”

But earlier, in Acts 16:6 Paul, Silas and Timothy were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia and when they tried to go to Bithynia, the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:7).

We should note that just because we have an open door to proclaim the gospel, this doesn’t mean that the message will be received positively. How someone responds to the gospel is also a mystery.  We are called to simply be obedient to share the gospel as we have opportunity, leaving the results to God.

In our personal witness, walk by faith and follow the Lord, praying and looking for spiritual doors to walk through so we can share the good news with others. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment to see open doors, and by faith, walk through them, lest we run into a closed door unnecessarily and say, “Ouch!” So love those around us, serve them, and pray for them, always being ready to walk through an open door. 

Praying for Wisdom

So we pray for open doors and open hearts. Yet we also pray for opportunities to open our mouths with a word aptly spoken. Additionally, we should pray about what activities may facilitate platforms for sharing good news with others. And so we pray for wisdom.

Years ago while a missionary in New York City, I was doing street outreach around the South Street Seaport area in lower Manhattan one afternoon. I was heading back to the subway on my way home when I made eye contact with a man sitting alone on a bench. I stopped for a moment and asked, “Can I ask you something?” “Sure,” he responded. “Who do you think Jesus is?” Beaming with a cynical grin, he mockingly retorted, “Jesus! I hate Jesus! I love the devil!” It didn’t take much wisdom to discern at that moment that he wasn’t interested in Jesus.

We need wisdom in our personal witness, for more often than not, what we should say or do when engaging those in our sphere of influence is not quite so simple.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Walk in wisdom to those who are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). What is wisdom? In the biblical sense, wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.

In our respective spheres of influence, we need wisdom regarding next steps in sharing our faith with “those who are without (Jesus).”

Therefore, the best course of action with an individual to whom you have a testimony will be unique to that person, your relationship with them, and what they believe about Jesus.

It may be to invite them out for a meal or coffee, or to watch a movie or sporting event – all in order to grow the friendship. Or it could be to offer to help them tangibly in some way by, for example, mowing their lawn, bringing them a meal or fixing something for them that’s broken. With that someone with whom you’ve already established a solid relationship, it may be to ask some leading questions about spiritual things. In contrast, it may to intentionally back off a relationship.

I don’t know what that next step or steps looks like for you, but God does. So we need wisdom as we strive to be a light to others.

Lord Jesus, please grant me wisdom as I seek to be a more effective witness in my relationship with ______.  And open doors to share, open their heart to receive, and open my mouth to give a word aptly spoken, that they may come to know You. Amen.    

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