Why is relational evangelism so effective and cold evangelism very difficult? Why do some wives exuberantly express gratitude for their husbands while others are clearly disrespectful and soured over their relationships with their husbands? Why is it easier to love some of our children while others pose quite a challenge for us? Why do some people seem so zealous and effusive when it comes to their relationships with God while others are listless and apathetic?
Psalm 57.7 records the praise of David which reached the heart of God: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise …I will awaken the dawn …For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens” (Psalm 57.7-10). Why is David effusively praising God when he is being hunted by Saul and must find refuge in a cave? The positive nature of this psalm is reinforced by the refrain found in both vv. 5 and 11: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57.5, 11).
The Mercy and Truth of God
We learn to pray for God to be merciful to us on the basis of our dependence upon Him (Psalm 57.1). David does not depend upon his worthy hiding place in a cave. His refuge is in the shadow of God’s wings until calamities pass him by. David counts on the mercy of God wed with the truth of God (Psalm 57.3). Mercy without truth is leniency. Leniency is wed to deceit. Genuine praise is the only appropriate response to mercy which reaches into the heavens along with truth unto the clouds (Psalm 57.10).
David found a literal refuge at a temporal moment of crisis in his life. He praised God for it when he could have complained about the fact that he had to hide in the first place. David looked beyond his temporal need to see the glory of God in the mercy of God. The truth was that David deserved judgment as all sinful men do. Instead, God demonstrated mercy toward David and all mankind by sending His Son to die for us. Mercy is only possible when one understands the truth of God’s commitment to His justice. “Grace (positive blessing that we do not deserve or earn) and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1.17).
David trusted in the fact that God is both truthful and merciful. That led to the effusive praise we see here. It’s something that doesn’t just belong in our private prayer time. It’s a statement about our God that everyone needs to hear and see in our lives – both in word and deed! It binds us together as believers. It awakens our desire for God so that we may delight in God.
The Exaltation and Glory of God
There is only so much that one life can do to exalt and glorify God. David recognized this. So, he turned to God to exalt Himself above the heavens …to glorify Himself above all the earth. This is the spirit of Psalm 45 when the Psalmist calls upon God to ride prosperously. “Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, with Your glory and Your majesty. And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; and Your right hand shall teach You awesome things” (Psalm 45.3-4).
Psalm 148 carries the same theme. The Psalmist calls all creation to praise the LORD. Angels, sun, moon, stars, the heaven of heavens, and waters above the heavens must praise Him. Sea creatures, fire, hail, snow, clouds, stormy winds, mountains, hills, fruitful trees, cedars, beasts, cattle, insects, birds, kings, people, princes, judges, young men and women, and older men and children – “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148.13).
Our prayer time must be a praise time as well. We must not only see the glory of God in life; it ought to be our driving desire to pray for recognition and realization when it comes to the glory of God in our specific lives.
If we are to glorify God, we must reflect His character to the world at large. Many times people speak of God’s goodness in a general sense; let us be specific. How was God good in your life today? Think of what you have in Christ even though you have sinned against Him numerous times. Think of how merciful He is. Think of the fact that He has drained the cup of God’s indignation toward sin and the sinner.
He has blessed you with His presence when you deserve alienation from Him. He answers your prayers daily. He provides mercy, grace, peace, access, hope, and love. He does so even when you choose to turn your back on Him. “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”
We must understand the mercy of God firsthand. It’s not enough to see it in the lives of others. When we see God’s mercy and truth and how they are met together in Christ, we become truly lost in wonder and in praise. We are grateful; we adore Him! We express that gratitude and adoration differently, but it is expressed. We cannot help but express it! If we love someone, we want the whole world to know it. How much more so when it comes to our relationship with God! This is what Paul means when he writes, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5.10). “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103.1-2)!
The exaltation of God is not our duty but our privilege! But it is something so overwhelming that we look to God to be effective in expressing it. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57.11).
Relational evangelism is much more effective because people see God’s truth along with God’s mercy as we compassionately unfold the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Wives respond favorably to husbands because they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their husbands love them. A child becomes the apple of a parent’s eye because of the reflection of Christlikeness found in the child. Christians serve God with zeal that boils over because they are overwhelmed by the mercy of God.
You might argue, “Well, we should evangelize even when we don’t feel like it. We should endure our relationship with our wives even when they are disrespectful. We should love our children even when they are unlovely. We ought to serve God even in the midst of confusion about His providence.” But I would say that that’s the wrong approach. It doesn’t need to be that way. There does not have to be a day that goes by where we are not filled with the Spirit and lost in wonder and in praise!