You Can Lead a Horse to Water…

I don’t know about you, but I grew up hearing the wise old proverb: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” And even though this wise old saying is certainly not in the Bible, I have heard it thrown around in the church so much that it almost makes you think it might be! The saying, which appears to have originated in England during the 12th century, has often been used when giving up on another for his or her inability or unwillingness to do the simple thing that would be most beneficial for him or herself from the perspective of the one repeating the proverb.
In the church I have often heard this phrase come up when discussing evangelism. Before we go on, let me be clear: I do believe that there is truth to this proverb as applied to evangelism. It is absolutely true that we can do everything to share the Gospel clearly with someone and yet cannot make them receive it. But more often than not, this proverb is used as a reason to not even try to evangelize instead of describing the reality that occasionally occurs when we do.
How often is it that a ranch hand leads a horse for a drink of water and the horse doesn’t drink? I’ve never really worked with horses, so I guess I don’t know! But I would suppose that a person familiar with the needs of horses under his or her care would have a pretty good idea of when the horse might need a drink and that most of the time, the horse would in fact drink. And just because a horse might not drink does not exempt the ranch hand from the responsibility of leading the horse to water, so why would we ever use this as justification for not evangelizing? We still have to tell people the Good News about Jesus whether they accept the truth or not! Christ commissions his followers to go be his witnesses to the ends of the earth!
In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Paul reminds us of the truth that we can’t make someone believe – that is indeed the work of God. And even our going and telling the Good News is not really our work, but God working in us and through us. But as Paul says, we are co-laborers with Christ and each of us has a role as a servant of Christ. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Friends, God is calling you and me to join Jesus in His work – to labor alongside. He has given us many horses who are in desperate need of living water. But there is Good News for us: You CAN lead a horse to water!
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or Like us on Facebook:

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