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SAINT FRANCIS . . . A SISSY?



Posted: 08/14/07

Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
- By Ray Comfort

One hundred and fifty thousand children had been on the brink of starving to death, but thanks to the kind gift of a very generous billionaire, every child now had enough food to keep him alive. That gift had arrived in the form of one big check. The horror was now over. It was finished. It was just a matter of distributing the food using the few relief workers we had. Without them to get the food to the children, there would have been many more deaths.

Some days later, a frantic worker burst into the camp and cried, "Some of the relief workers have stopped distributing food. Masses of children are dying!"

Why would the workers stop when there was plenty of food? It didn't make sense. The distraught man said, "It's because one of them held up a sign that said, 'Feed the starving children. Where necessary, use food.' That has caused some of the workers to simply befriend the starving children without giving them food. It's insane!"

The first time I ever heard of Saint Francis of Assisi was back in 1965. It was during the surf movie "The Endless Summer." Four surfers who were chasing the sun discovered the perfect wave, at a place in South Africa called "Cape Saint Francis." The sight of the perfect wave excited me beyond words.

The Unspeakable Gift

The next time I heard of him was when I heard that he said "Preach the Gospel at all times. Where necessary, use words." That statement upset me beyond words, because it was a philosophy that I knew sounded deeply spiritual . . . to those who were spiritually shallow. It made as much sense as "Feed starving children. Where necessary, use food."

On 16 July 1228 Francis of Assisi was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. That's a long time ago, so it's a little late for questions, but if I could I would like to find out why anyone would say such a strange thing? Was it because he was fearful to use actual words to preach the truth of the Gospel? Or was it because he thought that people would see that he had good works and hear the message of salvation without a preacher, something contrary to Scripture's "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

Whatever the case, 800 years since Francis we have many who profess faith in Jesus, and are no doubt using this popular philosophy to justify being speechless. To them salvation truly is an "unspeakable" gift.

Recently someone told me about a conference where 100,000 Christians gathered to worship God. When I asked if they were exhorted to go out and preach the Gospel to every creature, it was no surprise to me that they weren't. Instead, they were exhorted to live a life of worship. Again, that sounds spiritual, but you can't worship God without obedience to His Word, and His Word commands us to preach the Gospel to every creature.

I regularly meet those who think they can obey the Great Commission without using words. When they hear the Gospel preached that are usually offended and say things like, "I appreciate what you are saying, but I don't like the way you are saying it." With a little probing, they are the relationship folks, who think preaching the Gospel means building relationships with the lost, and never mentioning words like "sin," "Hell," and "Judgment Day." They think that real love is to withhold the Bread of life from those that are starving to death. Remember that Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38, italics added).

According to the dictionary, a "sissy" is "a timid or cowardly person." From what I understand of Saint Francis, he was no sissy. He was a loving man who was not afraid to use words when he preached. He wasn't frightened to preach repentance to a sinful world. However, there have been times when I could have been called that name. I have felt the grip of fear and have wanted to drop words such as sin, Hell, repentance and Judgment Day when I have preached to sinners. I don't want to come across as being unloving or judgmental, but I fear God more than I fear man. So when God's Word tells me to use words, I use words, despite the consequences.

Listen to the Apostle Paul's sobering warning to his hearers: "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20: 26-27). Perhaps he spoke about being free from their blood because he was familiar with God Himself warning Ezekiel of his responsibility to warn his generation: "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18, italics added).

When someone thinks that they can feed starving children and not use food, that's their business. But when their philosophy spreads throughout the camp, it becomes an unspeakable tragedy. If we become passive about the Great Commission because we are more concerned about ourselves than the eternal well-being of others, we may be able to hide our motives from man, but not from God. He warns, "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Surely we did not know this,' does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?" (Proverbs 24:11-12).

There's an interesting irony to this story. After a little research I came across a quote about the famous saying. It is from someone who had been a Franciscan monk for 28 years--and had earned an M.A. in Franciscan studies. He co ntacted some of the most eminent Franciscan scholars in the world to try and verify the saying. He said, "It is clearly not in any of Francis' writings. After a couple weeks of searching, no scholar could find this quote in a story written within 200 years of Francis' death." (1.)

So if it wasn't Saint Francis who said not to use words, who was it? Who is it that would like to see the truth of the Gospel hindered from being preached to every creature? That doesn't need to be answered.

The time is short. The laborers are few. Please, cast off your fears and equip yourself to preach the Gospel with words. They are necessary.
______________________
(1.) www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Oct2001/Wiseman.asp

Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

By Ray Comfort

Email: email@livingwaters.com

Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

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READER FEEDBACK


Actions speak louder than words
Posted On: 10/21/10 11:06:47 AM Age 0, TX
My personal experience has been that when you start with words it is a turn off to most. Actions speak louder than words. We must radiate the joy that is a by product of our strong faith. This attracts people and then they will want to have what you have. There are more oportunities to show Christ thru your actions. Simply being out among people, possibly wearing a cross necklace or crucifix, a sticker on your car - and acting Christ like- The words that really need to be used or those that would be in prayer for those that need it.



Actions speak louder than words
Posted On: 10/21/10 11:04:50 AM Age 0, TX
My personal experience has been that when you start with words it is a turn off to most. Actions speak louder than words. We must radiate the joy that is a by product of our strong faith. This attracts people and then they will want to have what you have. There are more oportunities to show Christ thru your actions. Simply being out among people, possibly wearing a cross necklace or crucifix, a sticker on your car - and acting Christ like- The words that really need to be used or those that would be in prayer for those that need it.

Questionable Quote vs Biblical Doctrine
Posted On: 12/30/09 09:57:56 AM Age 55, IL
I have been hearing and reading that quote being quoted and defended and debated for long enough. To me I now see this quote as a tool to challenge God's authority. It's been embedded into the visible church to continue the weakening or the strengthening of the authority of the Word of God in a believers life. If we embrace that quote, (It doesn't matter who said it), then we are weakening our respect for the authority of the Word of God to establish the biblical doctrine of preaching with words. Let's not get distracted with St. Francis at all. He is not the issue. That quote is a clever attack by the enemy of God who loves to challenge God's authority and His 'It is written'.



The gospel is the message that saves.
Posted On: 06/02/08 11:42:02 AM Age 30, CO
The gospel is the message that saves (Romans 1:16). It is made up of words, and we don't have to add anything to it. We just have to proclaim it. The example you give of a drug abusing, wife beater is silly. If someone doesn't behave as a Christian, they remain a child of the devil (1 John 3:10). Christians who are obedient will be obedient to God's command to preach the gospel. If you are obedient in every area of your life, and disobedient to God's command to preach the gospel, are you really living a Christian life, or are you just as bad as the hypocrite you describe? Why is your sin of disobedience more acceptable than his? Thanks, Bill

Totally off base.
Posted On: 04/16/08 04:34:40 AM Age 19, ND
Your criticizing of the phrase, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.", Is completely off-base. It is blatantly obvious in your post that you do not grasp the concept of what is being said, even though you claim to know what is being said and claiming it is "deeply spiritual for the spiritually shallow." "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." This is something that should be a guide for all of our lives. Tell me this, how likely are you to listen to a person evangelizing, preaching the Gospel, if they themselves are drug-abusers, beat their wife, and commit acts of violent crime (I know this is a harsh analogy, but it gets the point across). The answer is, you wouldn't. People aren't that likely to take the advice of people they can see to be hypocrites. Because no matter how good the message is, when you can't see that message in action and only see it as empty words, the message will likely go unheeded. So to "Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words." Should tell me to live my life in accordance with what I am believing in this Gospel message. This is what will give my words I use in preaching, or more specifically that God uses through me, meaning. Words mean precious little. In fact, a word is just a random string of letters. Nothing important. However, the idea we put behind them gives them meaning. This idea is better shown through our actions.



Re: Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
Posted On: 08/19/07 12:59:52 AM Age 42, TX
You wrote, "I have been approached by many preaching the "Gospel" and let me tell you it wasnt Good News I heard it was Turn or Burn!! So keep that where the sun doesnt shine." That doesn't represent somebody "acting" appropriately Christian, at all. PLEASE CONSIDER: 2 Corinthians 13:5--"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" Look up Reprobate in your dictionary, and truly examine yourself.

Re: Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
Posted On: 08/19/07 12:54:05 AM Age 42, TX
So...we should mainly just "act" Christian, and people will eventually notice the difference and ask us about our faith. This would bring to mind an analogy of a house being on fire at 3AM, and hoping the occupants sleeping inside it will see us in their dreams, waking up in time to wonder why our house is perfectly safe, and then to ask us about it...NOT. Did the disciples and persecuted Christians, afterwards, just wait around calmly, being nice, and hoping others would ask them about God's Wrath, Christ Crucified, and Salvation through Repentance and Sound Belief? Not at all. This fact, alone, destroys the "friendship evangelism method" of Never Offending the Lost. USE WORDS. When a lost soul is truly saved and Holy Spirit-indwelled, the drive to let others know what Salvation really is is overwhelming and ALWAYS on the mind. If one is pretending to be Christian, not only to others and but even to themselves, then Matthew 7:21-23 will be a terrible reality on that Final Day of Judgment. To near-quote Charles Spurgeon, "If you are not concerned about saving others, then you are not saved, yourself. Be sure of that."



Re: Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
Posted On: 08/17/07 05:28:52 PM Age 44, OK
Did you read the whole article? Look in paragraph 11 I think it says, “From what I understand of Saint Francis, he was no sissy. He was a loving man who was not afraid to use words when he preached. He wasn’t frightened to preach repentance to a sinful world.” Then in paragraph 13 the article shows that there is no written evidence that Saint Francis said what is being quoted. I think you may have missed the point of the article. I have never heard or read of Ray Comfort advocating not helping those in need. Can you tell me what happens to the soul of the lost man you give a sandwich, clothes and a blanket to and then he gets hit by a truck and killed while eating his food?

Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
Posted On: 08/16/07 10:32:01 PM Age 31, IN
I think most people missed the point of this article? Did no one read the end of it? Ray wasn't poking fun at St. Francis. He actually commended him. It is a shame that in commenting to the article people continue to defend a quote that St. Francis never even made! It is historically verifiable that he lived and preached repentance . We should be thankful. But instead everybody's offended because Ray just knocked over another golden cow of modern evangelicalism. St. Francis didn't even say it! The quote can't be reliably attributed to him. One thinks the irony of Ray's title would be obvious. Furthermore, Jesus didn't just walk by people smiling and bestowing "random acts of kindness." He preached (using words) the GOSPEL. Some were saved, but He also offended a lot of people as a result. Our lives, yes, should be the fruit that reiterates the Gospel, as we use words from the Bible, to convey it. The Bible does make it clear how people hear the Gospel, though. It is through the witness of those born-again.



Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
Posted On: 08/15/07 10:12:44 PM Age 53, FL
I have always read this saying as an reminder of Jesus' words in Matt., "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) Of course we are use words, I never thought this saying implied that we shouldn't. But I'll admit after reading Ray's take on it, it does cause me to wonder about the intended meaning. But I won't refrain from using it, I seldom do anyway. I do have an old t-shirt with this saying on it, but it doesn't fit anymore!

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