Why We Need A Plan: 6 - The Wisdom Of Solomon

Anyone who has a position of authority in the church today has my entire sympathy. The phrase “Can’t do right for doing wrong” springs to mind every time I see that shake of the head or hear that sniff of disapproval signalling that someone has taken offence, when elder, deacon, or anyone else acting in an official capacity has not done exactly as the carping critic would wish to see things done. If I were in their shoes, I’d be praying every day along the lines of Solomon’s judicious petition.

"And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3.7-9)

"The wisdom of Solomon” is a misnomer, I suppose, since it was the gift of God to His servant, which seems to have slipped Solomon’s mind in his later years, with unfortunate results.

Reading more of what R. A. Torrey has to say about the importance of personal work, also known as “personal dealing”, or “personal evangelism”, I’m reminded of my own lack of wisdom in many areas of life, over the years, and also of the lack of what is sometimes termed “sanctified common sense” in what passes for personal evangelism these days.

Here is his next section.

3. It can be done at any time.
The times when we can have preaching services and Sunday schools are quite limited. As a rule, in most communities, we cannot have services more than two or three days in the week, and only three or four hours in the day, but personal work can be done seven days in the week, and any time of day or night. Some of the best personal work done in this country in the last twenty years has been done on the streets at midnight and after midnight. Those who love souls have walked the streets looking for wanderers, and have gone into dens of vice seeking the lost sheep, and hundreds upon hundreds of them have thus been found.

Years ago, a young man in his early teens told me how he and a few of his friends had been handing out tracts outside premises which he considered were being used for immoral purposes. I admired his zeal, but suggested that, given the nature of the neighbourhood and the age of these young evangelists, it was unwise. His face fell. A few minutes later, his mother found me and launched into a tirade of abuse that had to be heard to be believed.

I knew why, of course. She was, in effect, the sole support of her family. Her husband was an unbeliever and a waste of space as far as fatherhood went. I should have encouraged her son, building him up in his faith, providing him with a positive role model, I was a disappointment, no, a disgrace, and most likely a man of dubious morality myself... On and on it went. Sanctified common sense never got a look in. She left the church later, after stirring up more trouble than you can possibly imagine. What? Yes, you can? You’ve experienced something similar? I bet it still stings, doesn’t it?

Let’s read on.

4. It reaches all classes.
There are large classes of men that no other method will reach. There are the shut-ins who cannot get out to church, the street-car men, the policemen, railroad conductors, sleeping-car men, firemen, the very poor and the very rich. Some cannot and others will not attend church or cottage meeting or mission meeting, but personal work can reach them all.

Ah, but now we’re in touch with everyone. We can seek and save the lost by becoming keyboard warriors in the internet army of the Lord. Actually, that’s not a bad idea, except that all I usually see are violent and vituperative exchanges, with much of the venom coming from Christians who haven’t enough sanctified common sense to recognise a wind-up merchant when they come across one. Use the social media by all means - but Torrey’s main point still stands.

His next paragraph contains several more points worth pondering. May I invite you to read it through a couple of times? There is more to it than immediately meets the eye; then, treat my comments as a mere afterthought.

5. It hits the mark.
Preaching is necessarily general; personal work is direct and personal. There is no mistaking who is meant, there is no dodging the arrow, there is no possibility of giving what is said away to some one else. Many whom even so expert a Gospel preacher as Mr. Moody has missed have been afterwards reached by personal

In my past, mostly, evangelism meant bringing new people to church. That’s what I was always given to understand. So, I was pretty pleased with myself when I managed to persuade my sister to accompany me one Sunday. Into the lobby of the church we went. There were friendly greetings, and a handshake or two. “Good, this is going well,” I thought.

Then, one of the church members came up close to my sister’s side, and, without warning, bellowed “Oyyer sevved!” in her ear; which, roughly translated, means “Are you saved?” She jumped several inches in the air, sensitive soul that she was, and with that and one or two other incidents, she was in no mood to listen to anything else that morning. She went home convinced that her brother was keeping company with people who were demented, and, quite possibly, downright dangerous.

That said, Arrad was a good man, a better man than I am, and a faithful servant of the Lord, even if he did insist in later life that he could go for twenty-four hours and more without committing a single sin. What was I saying about sanctified common sense?

Strangely enough, I’ve just been listening to Max McLean reading James, chapter one. Verse five! “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God...” It’s a good idea; and so is coming up with a proper plan for our own personal evangelism - as long as it contains a good proportion of sanctified common sense, that is.