Do They Believe You Believe It?

I’ve often heard:

It’s not what you say but how you say it.

Well, yes and no.  It’s most important what you say.  But if you have something good to say – something true to say – shouldn’t it alter the way you say it?

David Hume, a well-known Scottish philosopher and historian in the 18th Century, who was also a Deist, didn’t believe in any inspiration or revelation or the Son of God or in the Bible, but reportedly thought it worthwhile to travel 20 miles to hear George Whitefield preach. About five o’clock one morning, he was going down the street in London. He came around the corner and went straight into the hands of another man who said,

“Why aren’t you David Hume?”


“Where are you going at this early hour ?”

“I’m going to hear George Whitefield preach,” replied Hume.

“You don’t believe a word Whitefield preaches,” said the man.

“No,” Hume answered, “but he does!”

[Haykin, ed., Revived Puritan, pp. 35–37.]


What a testimony.  Here was someone who was intrigued enough by the way someone said something that they were interested to hear what was being said.

It’s a tragedy to hear people who speak about Jesus truthfully but don’t speak convincingly.  

I’m aware that everyone has different personalities and styles, but far too often do we see people talk about the One who was raised from death into life and it turns into a boring, academic exercise rather than a life-giving, passionate appeal.  If this good news has changed our lives, shouldn’t we speak of it as a consistent reality of which we have yet to grown apathetically accustom.

Does this news quicken me?  Am I passionate?  Do I portray deep conviction?

I often tell preachers, worship leaders, and worshipers that people come into our services who are still without faith.  People are in our midst who don’t believe what we believe.  They are present and they are watching.

Even if they don’t believe what we believe, do they believe that we believe it?

It’s important what you say, but it’s also important how you say it.

If you feel stuck, pray that as you speak, the Spirit would turn you into another man (1 Sam. 10:6).  Pray the joy of God’s salvation would be restored to you (Ps. 50:12).  For when we speak, let us speak as if we are speaking the very oracles of God with the strength that God Himself provides (1 Pet. 4:11).