Christianity Today has an interesting article called Speak the Gospel. The premise of the article is that the quote, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” was not an actual reflection of the supposed originator Francis of Assisi. The goal of the article is to point to a rephrase of the quote, “Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.”
At first glance, this rephrase sounds grand. It encourages speaking the gospel versus the obscure nature of showing the gospel through action. Some of the comments on the article make a great point. Our actions should accommodate our words. There are many examples I can give of sharing the gospel with words that were falling on deaf ears. An action that accompanied the words made all the difference- be it a cup of coffee or a generous tip. The actions paved the way for the words to be heard.
We see this example in Jesus and His disciples when they fed people and healed people and also spoke the truth of the gospel. Actions are often necessary.
I do not think the purpose of the article was to minimize deeds done well for the Lord. The purpose was to counteract the rather cop-out statement that it is sufficient to live out the gospel and only use words when necessary. Perhaps the quote should really be, “Preach the gospel boldly and use your actions as tangible demonstrations of the gospel you present.”