The Exam Series-Question Four-Do I Witness on a Regular Basis?
Psalm 26 1 Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, 7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. 8 Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, 10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 I lead a blameless life. Deliver me and be merciful to me.12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
If you have been with us for all of the three previous weeks of this series, you have gotten a great understanding of Psalm 26 and the comments David said about himself when he invited God to search him and see if what he was claiming was true. As disciples of Christ it is important that we examine ourselves with some regularity to make sure we are intentionally following after Jesus. We have asked ourselves, “Do I trust God?” “Do I live different from the world?” “Do I worship with a pure and passionate heart.” And today we are examining the regularity of our witness.
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done” Psalm 105:1
How are you making the Lord known to the others in your life?
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” 2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV).
How willing have you been to be an ambassador for the Good News of Jesus?
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” John 15:8
How much fruit is your life bearing? John tells us here that we SHOW we are disciples of Jesus when people are won to Christ through our witness.
Colossians 4 gives us a wonderful strategy for sharing our faith. We read beginning in verse 2: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Paul is a “first things first” kind of guy. He says that:
- Regular witnessing begins with regular prayer.
I know that sounds like “Duh!” but do we do it? Do we have a list of people we are praying for? Are we asking God to use us to win them to Him? Church, we need a soul burden. It ought to bother us that people are dying and going into eternity without Christ. That means they are going to hell. As Christ-followers that ought to concern us. It ought to tear us up. I guarantee you, one prayer God will definitely answer is the prayer to be used of God to witness to others about Him.
Paul encouraged his reader to pray not only for their personal witness, but to pray for him and those with him to be able to have doors for evangelism open to them. Pray that your children become evangelists. Pray they will share with their friends at school and be met with receptivity. Pray for our staff as we minister here and in our community, that God will give us open doors of favor. Pray for Christians in our community who have lots of influence to be able to be bold witnesses for Christ. Pray that all of our church members will take witnessing seriously.
Second, Paul tells us in verse 2 that:
- Regular witness involves being watchful and thankful.
We need to have our eyes peeled for opportunities connect with people for the purpose of witnessing to them. Satan is like a lion prowling around with his eyes peeled looking to devour people. We should live on the prowl, so to speak, to see who we can snatch from his clutches and snatch from the fires of hell. We need to live alert! Look for the new neighbor moving in to your neighborhood. Introduce yourself to them, and ask if they have a church home. Look for ways to bless your kids’ coaches. I guarantee they get plenty of criticism. Look for ways to thank them and bless them by offering to help with extra things coaches always need parents to do. Include your kids’ teachers in your kids’ milestones. Hannah was baptized when she was in the first grade. We invited her teacher, Vera Verkley to come to her baptism, and she did! When a co-worker shares something personal with you about a family situation, sickness or struggle, let them know you will be praying for them and follow up on them.
You will need to be led by the Holy Spirit if you are going to see opportunities to witness. I was on my way to Winfield a week ago Friday to see Ron and Pat White. To get there, I had to pass Winfield Elementary and Winfield Middle School. I passed Winfield Elementary and saw some teachers and parents holding signs in front of the school. The thought came to me, “They need prayer.” I kept driving, and sure enough, when I passed Winfield Middle there were more teachers and parents holding signs in front of the school. The thought became a voice, “You need to stop and pray for them.” I passed Ron and Pat’s street and drove on to the High School just to see what was going on. There they were-parents and teachers, holding signs. I knew I couldn’t wait. I pulled into the high school and explained that I was a Winfield High parent. I simply said, “I felt led to stop and have prayer for the situation if that is OK.” They were thrilled. I left there and drove back to the Middle School and then back to the Elementary school before I went on to Ron and Pat’s.
Now, I didn’t stop and say, “Now, what I’m about to do is to witness that Jesus Christ, the Sinless Son of God, died on a cross to save the world from sin. And if you will confess Him as Savior and Lord right this minute, you can be saved.” I simply said I felt led to stop and pray and wanted their permission to do so. What did I say without saying it? I hope I said that as a Christ-follower, as a Christian, that I cared about the situation. In my prayer I prayed that teachers would receive what they deserve and what they need. I prayed for lawmakers and the union to work out a timely solution. I hope my actions communicated that I cared. I also hope that in praying I communicated that the solution for all of life’s issues comes as we seek direction from God. Cars that were driving by saw these groups of people with their head bowed for prayer. I believed God was speaking through the brief words of prayer.
Now, I could have just honked in response to the signs to show them that I was “with them” but because I was attentive to the Spirit, my car was led to different locations than the location I originally attended to visit. I then went to Ron and Pat’s, and after that I went in search of other schools where I could pray with people. I had NO IDEA that someone took my picture and posted it on FB with a note about “some sweet lady” who stopped to pray with the teachers.
I now have a new FB friend, the lady who posted the picture, AND lots more people can be impacted by the witness of prayer because of her post. Do you know that I went to four schools and not one person in any of the four locations said, “No, you cannot pray for this situation, and if you do, I am out of here or I am going to shout so loud no one can hear you pray, or I am going to beat you up.” Seriously. Not one person was disagreeable with me offering prayer. Isn’t that often our fear? How realistic is it, really?
Devin Cloninger, our children’s pastor’s husband, is a regular witness at Amazon where he works. He got some new team members for his team and two of them let him know up front that they were Christians and that they weren’t shy about sharing that in the workplace. That was great for him to hear since he operates the same way. Devin asked me if we had any more of the crosses we gave out in January because he wanted to keep them on his desk and give them out as God directed.
Now, that is pretty proactive, right? He wasn’t just sitting back and waiting for an opportunity, but he was creating an opportunity for conversation. People who came to his desk would see the crosses. I guarantee someone is going to ask a question.
Paul says, “Be watchful. Look for ways to make an impact,” and then he said, “Be thankful when you can share Christ with someone.”
- Regular witness should involve great wisdom.
Verse 5 tells us to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Every conversation you have with an unbeliever is critical. Every one. Whether you are discussing how you think the coaches are treating the players at your kids’ school, whether you are voicing your opinions about politics, or whether you are just “shooting the breeze.” Every conversation is important. We need to be wise and understand the kind of tone and talk that unnecessarily turns people off. I’m not talking about shying away from talking about Jesus and the cross. We need more of that. I’m just talking about the way we present ourselves in general even when the content isn’t about Jesus and the cross.
When someone expresses a struggle or a need in their life, you need to see a big opening for you to start witnessing by supporting, offering prayer, and practical support. That a the moment where the light is always green. That is a moment people are vulnerable and most-receptive. That is a moment you seize, and if you can’t seize that moment in that moment, you send yourself a text or an email to remember to get back with that person about what they have shared with you.
Be wise. Expect debate. That is now a value in our culture. Part of wisdom in evangelism is knowing your audience, knowing what you are up against. Our culture is filled with doubters, haters, antagonists, and some who are truly seeking God. Many want to “catch” Christians slipping up. If someone challenges your behavior or points out a flaw or brings something up that you did that wasn’t very Christian-like, if it is valid, just agree with them. Tell them you are sorry you didn’t represent Christ or your faith in that moment. We aren’t perfect, so that is an opportunity for you to point them to the truth of Scripture. It isn’t about our perfection. It is about Christ’s perfection and our pursuit of Him!
Some want to look for obscure Bible passages that poke holes in our theology and want to argue those. Just share the truth of God’s Word without the emotion that accompanies such debate. Share it with sensitivity and love. Ask lots of questions that cause unbelievers to re-think how they think. Also share your personal experience with God and what your relationship with Him provides for you.
Exercise wisdom and discernment in your personal life so that people have an example to follow-so that people can see Christ in your everyday life.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:15–16
When you live to serve others, to lift people up, to encourage others, to help people in need, you earn a reputation for being a light, for being positive. A negative person will never be a positive witness for Christ. Their life will have the opposite impact and will drive people away.
Be wise in the way you treat people because you are giving Christ a reputation by your actions. God is love. His people need to be loving. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:35
Be wise AND make the most of every opportunity. Any chance you have to build a relationship with a non-believer is an opportunity you can seize for the Kingdom of God. That’s what we are about as a church. We look for opportunities to build bridges to our community, to establish a relationship with groups of people, so that when the door is open for a conversation about Jesus, we already have a relationship that enables us to speak into people’s lives and circumstances and offers hope.
Do you know what a church’s two greatest resources are? It’s their people and their building. People who share Christ, who invite their friends to church become the single most effective opportunity for evangelism. If you invite four people that you know personally to come to church, studies show that one will come. So, don’t be discouraged if you invite one person and they don’t come. Don’t say to yourself, “Well, that didn’t work.” If you keep inviting, by the fourth person, statistics tell us one will come. The second resource a church has, is its building. Why in the world would we build a building that is only used by ourselves two days a week? Why invest all of that money in something just for ourselves to be used a few hours a week? It’s not only poor stewardship, it is unwise. We need to be wise with our resources.
Churches have spaces that can help them connect with their community, and those spaces become evangelism opportunities. My heart’s desire is to see churches become community centers because if the community gets in the habit of walking through our doors on Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon, they are more likely to get used to the idea they could be comfortable walking in on Sunday morning.
My heart was absolutely grieved this past Monday as I read something in an online chat group that was written by a pastor of a small church that he is trying to help grow. This is what he posted:
I do not know whether to laugh or cry. I cannot pull my hair as I don’t have much left. When we came to “our church”, our vision was to reach the community and part of that was connecting our church building with the community. My wife Sue has been the one to spearhead outreach into the community and connecting with various groups and organizations who now use our building. One of those groups is a ‘BootCamp’ exercise group.
One of my older members overheard me talking with a board member about this group and took another board member aside saying he was “appalled that Gods house would be used by non Christians. Only Christians should use the building.”
This same member and his wife at one time had a traveling music ministry. In December we organized a community Christmas carol sing, where we invited the local high school to participate with their choir and band. When this couple heard that “non-christians” were going to be singing in our building for Christmas, they opted out of singing.
I cannot understand the mindset of anyone who would want to keep people out of the church building. I cannot understand the mindset of anyone who wouldn’t want to look for every possible way to get people into the church building. If the community group isn’t coming to promote darkness or a sinful lifestyle, I say, “Serve your volleyballs, dunk your baskets, toss your bean bags at a corn-hole tourney, make your crafts, have your reunions, exercise your physical bodies, and have your receptions and parties.” Life was meant to be enjoyed, and if we can get people comfortable in our building in a social atmosphere, there is a greater chance they will feel comfortable to participate in a spiritual atmosphere.
We are going to be wise about the use of our new building because it will present us with countless opportunities to connect our community to Christ. One way we intend to do that is by having open gym on Monday nights from 5-9 pm. We would love to have some members of our church there on Mondays to just hang out and welcome people who come in an effort to start building relationships with them. If you want to be one of our “hangout ministers” mark your blue card!
- Regular witness should involve a healthy heaping of grace.
Look again at Colossians 4:6-Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
The Gospel of Jesus is a Gospel of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.
Sinners sin. They do things that are contrary to Scripture. They don’t have an immediate understanding of spiritual things. Grace and patience will be required. People may do things that shock you, things that offend you, but don’t let that get in the way of the grace of God. If it was about works and what they were doing or not doing, it wouldn’t be a Gospel of grace.
Nothing will be more discouraging to a non-believer or a young Christian than pressure to be perfect. If you grew up in the church, you learned step by step what God desires for your life. Why would we expect others to take it all in overnight? We need to let people know that a past isn’t a problem for God. We need to assure them that Christ’s perfection is what God is looking at, not our day by day attempts, even if they include some failures along the way. We need to teach people that they can confess their sin, receive forgiveness and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to change, but it takes time.
You needed grace when you gave your life to Christ. Give it to others who are searching. Paul says to season your speech with salt. Following Jesus is the best life. We should talk about it that way. Salt enhances the flavor of food. Jesus enhances our lives. Salt preserves things to keep them from spoiling. We need to make sure the things we say to others keeps our witness intact and that is preserves the realities of the Gospel. Salt also makes us thirsty. The way we talk to “outsiders” should make them thirsty for the things of Jesus.
We need to look for creative inroads into people’s lives. The Gospel is a “one-size-fits-all,” but the approach, the way we share it, has to be uniquely delivered to each person. Paul says at the end of Colossians 4:6, “Know how to answer everyone.”
- Regular witness involves a personal touch.
Some people will have to have facts and evidence in order to believe in Jesus. Some will be looking for God to care about the practical needs in their lives. Others will need to experience something supernatural in order to believe. The crowds that followed Jesus all had individual reasons for doing so. Jesus always ministered to people as individuals. Some people received healing through a touch. Others received healing through a word. Some had to be taught first in order to be encouraged to follow. Each person is different. Be personally available and look for ways to be personable and personal with each person you are trying to win.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
With some people you will need to start with the Word. They will want to have a conversation. With others you will start with your personal experience. They will want to hear what a life with God has done for you. With others start with casual comments about going to church or coming from church or posting about church. Let them see that your Christianity fits into your everyday life and isn’t so weird. I guess this is where you need to be absolutely led by the Spirit of God and to rely on God’s Spirit to show you how to respond to each person you encounter.
Do you live to make God famous? Can you say like David that you are a regular witness? That’s the last exam question. How well did you score on the test?