Applying the Character Quality of Persuasiveness

Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness

3 min

Persuasiveness is convincing others to follow God’s ways because of how His ways are working in our lives.

Several Greek words reveal the meaning of persuasiveness. Peitho, which is translated as persuade, means “to convince (by argument, true or false); … to assent (to evidence or authority).” It carries with it the concept of guiding a person’s thoughts by a sequence of convincing statements. Elegcho, which is translated as convince, means “to convict, refute, confute … to find fault with, correct … admonish, reprove.” Dialogizomai, which is translated as reason, means “to bring together different reasons, to reckon up the reasons … deliberate.”

Why Persuasiveness Is Important

God’s primary calling for every believer is to be a witness of His truth. Persuasiveness is communicating truth to a person’s spirit through sound reasoning and convincing him to follow the ways of God. Persuasiveness will increase our effectiveness in helping people turn from sin to follow Christ.

God’s primary calling for every believer is to be a witness of His truth.

The eternal torments of hell should be a powerful motivation for us to develop the skills of persuasiveness so that we can turn unbelievers from such a place. This was the motivation of Paul: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).

When we talk to people, they tend to have two questions in their minds: (1) Why is this important for me to hear? (2) How can I apply it to my life? As we seek to communicate Biblical truth to others, we should make sure we answer these two questions.

The Secrets of Persuasiveness

The authority of Scripture

Persuasiveness is based on the authority behind it, and there can be no greater authority than the Word of God. Rightly using Scripture was the key to the persuasiveness of Paul, Apollos, and others. Apollos “mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). In order to have this authority, we must learn how to skillfully use the Word of God, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

The authority of personal testimony

Paul often used his own testimony to convince his hearers of the power and truth of God. He even used his testimony in talking to King Agrippa and almost persuaded him to become a believer. (See Acts 26:13–28.) The saints spoken of in Revelation 12:11 overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”

The authority of appealing to the conscience

An effective method of persuasion was explained by Paul in II Corinthians 4:2: We “have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” In order to appeal to the conscience of a person, it is important to get his permission to ask personal questions about past failures.

The effectiveness of using gracious words

Gracious words are often one of the most effective ways to persuade others to do what is right. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

Even when others argue with us, we are not to be contentious. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:24–26).

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you persuade Christian friends to join you in doing good works for others who are in need?
  • Do you have a written testimony concerning various areas of the Christian life so that others would be persuaded to follow your example?
  • Do you persuade others to believe on Jesus Christ?
  • Do you persuade others to dedicate their lives to God?
  • Do you persuade those who use Scripture to justify wrong activities that they are misusing God’s Word?
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