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Fruitful and Unfruitful Gospel Conversations

(The following is the February 5 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 27 and pay close attention to verses 38-44.)

It is beautiful when believers have gospel conversations with unbelievers. It is a joy to answer questions about faith, our personal experience with Christ, and Scripture. When one truly seeks answers to life’s biggest questions, it is a privilege to be the vessel God uses to plant gospel seeds or water what others have planted in anticipation of God’s harvest. Believers should willingly spend time with such individuals in conversation, prayer, study, and friendship.

However, engaging with unbelievers hostile to the faith is quite different. The conversations can be frustrating. Meaningful dialogue is challenging if one party brings antagonism, skepticism, anger, or criticism to the discussion. If skeptics always follow up one question with another regardless of our responses, they may not genuinely seek answers or be open to biblical truth. They may intend to continuously object with more questions as a ploy to debate rather than seek God. We should engage lovingly in gospel conversations with all who are willing. We should also learn when to leave unfruitful discussions and go to more fertile pastures receptive to the gospel.

When Christ hung on the cross, many mocked him. The religious leaders said, “Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (v. 42). Do you think any of those mockers were open to believing in him? Probably not. They spewed their hatred at God’s Son, and nothing Jesus might do or say then would change their minds. Jesus didn’t come down from the cross to satisfy their whim. He had more important, eternal work to do. We must also learn to leave barren fields and serve where the harvest potential is the greatest.

Next Step:

Reflect on recent gospel conversations with unbelievers. Who seems genuinely interested? How can you follow up with them? Who merely likes to debate? With whom is your time best spent? Pray for both kinds of people but plow the most fertile field.

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