It must have been my training in psychology paired with a bit too much pride that in my younger years I really thought I could change a heart and mind. In psychology you are trained in methods of getting to the bottom of people’s issues and equipping them to make the needed changes to make it through difficult life situations or even deal with psychosis. It can be very easy to think that you have the ability to do things that no human being really has the power to do. The person in therapy is actually the one who has to do the hard work of life change…the therapist can help guide but that’s about it.
When it comes to evangelism and Bible study it is very important to remember that we are just guides. We don’t change hearts. We don’t change minds. That is God’s work, not ours.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
We can help align things for people to grow but we cannot change hearts or minds. We cannot do what only God can do.
In Acts 16:14 we find Lydia come to Christ. Paul was part of the equation but Paul didn’t have the power to open her heart. Only God can do that,
“The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
Paul did the teaching…God opened her heart.
God also showed Paul where to go and who to talk to, like the Spirit blocking Paul’s way then giving him a vision of a man from Macedonia. God can still show us where to go and who to talk to today. We see this all the time in our church plant.
This means that we desperately need God’s help if we are going to be effectual in seeing lives changed. I personally believe this work is the work of the Holy Spirit. It won’t come by us having the perfect Bible study approach. It won’t come by us being persuasive. It won’t come through hellfire and brimstone sermons…only God can open and change hearts and minds.
If we are going to be effective, we need to admit that we cannot do the work of evangelism without God’s help. We are doing the light lifting…God is doing the heavy lifting! Once we come to grips with that we can focus on our part of the process and lean hard on God, expecting Him to do His part! Then expect God to show up big!
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The renewal of the mind is our job, is what Paul seems to write.
A question: What made Lydia so different that it was GOD who opened her heart – compared to the millions whose hearts are not opened? Is God then indeed a ‘respecter of persons?’
Or is it when we renew our mind that gives God the space then to open the heart?