You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Have

by Jacob Hudgins

Salesman with arms crossedThey promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption”(2 Pet 2:19).

We are suspicious of salesmen. We are accustomed to the tricks of the trade—outlandish claims that don’t match reality, deals too good to be true, and terrible things in the fine print. Yet for me, one of the most important questions a salesman can answer is “Do you own one?” If someone is unwilling to use their own product, I certainly don’t need it.

That is certainly true religiously. Many teachers boldly proclaim paths to God, though many contradict each other. One question can pierce through the confusion: do you have what you’re selling? “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption”(2 Pet 2:19). How can someone give me freedom when they are not free themselves? How can someone teach me when they don’t know? While this test may not invalidate the message, it certainly discredits the messenger. You can’t sell what you don’t have.

But what about us? Paul brags of the Thessalonians, whose “faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”(1 Thess 1:8-9). The “word of the Lord sounded forth” from them because it was genuine. They had faith, and it helped others to have faith. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”(1 Pet 3:15). Our hope elicits interest from others, and they want to hear about why we are so hopeful. Real faith and hope is attractive, and others want it. But we can’t sell what we don’t have.

In our everyday conversation, we show this inconsistency. When we blame moral choices on our church, we are saying they do not proceed from our faith in Jesus. When we are unwilling to discuss the wonderful transformation Jesus has brought in our heart and lives, we are saying that this is not real to us. When our concern about being “normal” overrides our concern for being faithful, we are saying that our hope is only to impress others. When such a foundation is laid, no wonder we struggle to convert others! We can’t sell what we don’t have!

May God bless us to live sincere lives and lead others to Him!

Last modification: Wed 16 Aug 2017