Elder Paisios said: Often we see a person and we say a couple spiritual words to him and he converts. Later we say, “Ah, I saved someone.” I believe that the person who has the disposition and goodness within him, if he doesn’t convert from what we say, would convert from the sight of a bear or a fox or from anything else. Let us beware of false evangelization.
The soul is a great mystery – greater still is the mystery of a soul’s turning to God. Argumentation is frequently misleading. For though we may mount the perfect rational case for turning to God – the heart will not receive it unless it is prepared. We never live our lives on a purely rational basis.
This does not make rational discussion of no value – but it recognizes that such discussions require the disposition of a good heart. Such a disposition in another person is utterly beyond our control (and even sometimes beyond their own). Kindness and prayer are thus of far greater importance than masterful argument.
It is always God Himself who is the desire of our heart (that is, according to our nature). Explanations, be they ever so good, are not the true hunger that haunts us: God Himself is the true explanation of all things. If in the course of discussion or even argumentation, someone comes to faith in God, it is because something has happened (in the heart) that allows God to be apparent.
By the same token, an evil disposition and a darkened heart, if found within a “believer,” will become the source of many dark thoughts. Such a heart will argue for the destruction of others and constantly misrepresent God. We cannot present the good God out of an evil heart.
A believer’s first concern, above all else, must be to acquire a good heart – one that is disposed to God and that loves everything and everyone. Only with such a good heart can we be of use to anyone in all of creation.