St. Francis Never Said It

il_fullxfull.389969584_tbolSt. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying:  “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

The problem?  He probably never said it.

Even Catholic Scholars agree, you can’t find it in his writings or any of the biographies written about him up to 200 years after his death.  In fact, Francis was particularly known for his passionate words.  He sometimes preached in 5 different villages a day.  And he spoke with such animation that some said his feet moved while he was speaking as though he were dancing!

Why is this important?

First, let me say clearly:  showing the love of Jesus with our actions is absolutely important.  The Bible could not be more pointed, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17

But this is also absolutely true:  The Gospel is verbal.  “How are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Rom. 10:14

Our primary role as followers of Jesus Christ is to be witnesses of His Gospel.  To be a witness is not just being able to share our testimony of how we came to faith in Christ, it is to share the truth of God’s redemptive storyline from creation to the cross to His return and then the age to come.

People won’t spend eternity separated from Christ because they did not receive compassionate action from Christ-followers, they will spend an eternity separated from Christ because they did not respond to the truth of God’s message.  And Christians will not have their love for Christ grow cold (see Mt. 24) because they didn’t receive an act of kindness, but because they did not hear a truthful account of God’s activity at the end of this age and grew offended.

It’s time for believers to clear their throats and be a witness of the Gospel.  It’s OK if you get so excited that your feet move as though you are dancing!


About Rich Stevenson

Rich is the Executive Director of The Malachi Network (, a ministry focused on making the name of the LORD great among the nations. This network serves young leaders in missions and church planting. Prior to his present ministry, Rich pastored in Southern New Jersey, planted a church in Wilmore, KY, established a network of churches, served as an adjunct professor at Asbury College and was a senior leader at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO as well as The International House of Prayer in Atlanta, GA. Rich is the author of two books: Secrets of the Spiritual Life—10 Lessons from the One Thing Passages (Baker Books, 2003) A Voice from Home—The Words You Long to Hear from Your Father (WaterBrook Press, 2005) He graduated from Asbury College in 1984 with a BA degree in Philosophy of Religion and Asbury Theological Seminary in 1987 with a Master of Divinity degree. In 2010, Rich received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Biblical Seminary in Yangon, Myanmar. Rich has been married to Tania since 1982 and they have been blessed by amazing children: Zachary and his wife Meghan, Jacob and his wife Lena, Jessica and Corrie Emma.
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