Avoid These Three Enemies of Evangelism

by Feb 10, 2023Evangelism Training

Note: This is the second article in a three-part series on practicing the attributes of love in evangelism. In each article, authors highlight one or more attribute of love found in First Corinthians 13:4-8 and discuss how it also applies to Evangelism.  Read the first and third articles in this series.

An “enemy” of evangelism is anything that hinders or prevents the proclamation of the gospel. Sometimes these “enemies” are not obvious. Like stealth bombers, they can go undetected until they damage or destroy our witness.

When we think about opposition to the gospel, we tend to think about external forces such as persecution, skepticism, and demonic opposition. While these are formidable foes, some of the most powerful enemies we face are internal, arising from our own propensity to sin.

Paul lists some of these internal enemies in 1 Corinthians 13, otherwise known as the “love” chapter of the Bible. Love is key to evangelism because we are motivated by God’s love, both His direct love for the other person as well as His love made manifest in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This Spirit-empowered love is designed to reflect God’s love for others and point them to Him. You cannot separate evangelism from love.

Paul describes this God-given love in 1 Corinthians 13 by listing its attributes, including patience and kindness. These attributes are like the facets of a diamond, displaying love’s beauty and brilliance.

Paul also tells us what love is not, “Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant.” Whenever we see these traits in ourselves, we know that we are not operating out of love. They diminish or even destroy our witness.

Let’s look at these three enemies of evangelism, envy, boastfulness, and arrogance, to see why they are a problem and how we can prevent them.


Why is it a problem?

Envy is the jealousy that arises when we compare ourselves to others. It manifests in evangelism when we compare “our results” to those of others. When this happens, evangelism becomes more about us and our performance rather than the Lord and His performance. It also can also lead to discord among believers, destroying the unity that is so key to our collective witness. (John 17:21)

How to deal with it?

Consider putting the verse in 1 Corinthians 3 here as listed below.

  1. Recognize that we all are susceptible to envy and need the Lord’s help to prevent it.
  2. “Stay in your lane.” Don’t measure yourself against the track record of others. Measure yourself by your own devotion and obedience to the Lord.
  3. Replace envy with celebration. God is the one who works through people. (1 Corinthians 3:5-8)


Why is it a problem?

Boastfulness simply means “to parade oneself” or to “put oneself forward.” It manifests in evangelism when we make it about us and put ourselves above the Lord. Boastfulness taints our testimonies to non-believers (“look who I have become” or “what I know”) as well as to believers (“look at how many people I have led to Christ”). It turns people off and steals glory away from the Lord.

How to deal with it?

  1. Remember how much the Lord hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). God will not share His glory with anyone.
  2. Stay in the word. James compares the word of God to a mirror. It reveals who we really are, including when we are prideful. This is crucial because pride is hard to detect in ourselves.
  3. Focus on the Lord. Keep your main priority on the Lord and how He looks in the eyes of others rather than on yourself and how you look.


Why is it a problem?

The Biblical word for arrogance means “To be puffed up,” like a peacock raising its feathers to display its beauty. We are guilty of arrogance in evangelism when our driving motivation is to be “right”, to “win” the argument, or to display our knowledge and reasoning ability for any purpose other than our love for the person and desire for them to know the Lord.

How to deal with it?

  1. Pursue humility. A good definition of humility is not a low estimation of oneself, but a high estimation of the greatness of God. The late Billy Graham said that every morning he read the Psalms to focus on how big God is, and how small he was in comparison.
  2. Be accountable. Have some people in your life who have permission to point out “blind spots” in your life, including times when you are arrogant.
  3. Keep in mind that the only difference between you and the non-believer you are talking to is the grace of God, not your intellect, your morality, your politics, or even your morality. Had He not rescued you, you would be in the same situation.

Don’t let envy, boastfulness, or arrogance hurt your evangelism. Deal with them before they deal with you and your witness.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” James 4:10.