Being a Good Witness
by Matthew Mellors
Acts 1:8 - “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
A question that every Christian needs to answer continually is, “Am I being a faithful witness for Christ?” God has placed His people in different places of influence; the school, the college, the work place, the home... The reality is, although the places we find ourselves in vary, we are all called to live as His witnesses in this world.
To be clear, we first need to define what being a Christian witness is and is not. If we have an imbalance we won’t be faithful witnesses. On the one side there are Christians that say "Preach the gospel; use words if necessary," basically meaning all that matters is the way we conduct our lives. On the other side there are those that say the only thing that matters is to preach the gospel. Biblically to be a Christian witness is to point people to Christ both by the way we conduct our lives and by verbally communicating the gospel.
What we also need to realise is that being a faithful witness will cause opposition. While in the western world we might not currently face physical persecution, the truth is that all Christians desiring to be faithful witnesses in this world will face some sort of opposition.
“All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
The world rejected Jesus, so don’t be surprised if it rejects you too. We should be very concerned if we face no opposition as this likely means we aren’t being a witness.
Like many Christians, God has placed me in the corporate world and being His witness is something that I constantly have to be aware of. Working with unbelievers has many challenges. Dishonesty, coarse language and jokes, and heavy drinking at work events is something that I have had to deal with - guarding my witness is something I have to be doing constantly. A verse that I meditate on frequently is from Philippians 1:27 -
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”
Walking away from the crude conversation, saying that you don’t drink - these things do make people think and they notice that there is something different. While this has led to opportunities to share my faith, it has also led to opposition.
Another area we have to examine is our work ethic. If I claim Jesus is my Lord and Saviour and then proceed not to work diligently, to be dishonest in my dealings with clients and colleagues, or to complain frequently, my witness will be severely compromised. It is a sad reality that I have heard and seen for myself how poorly some Christians show their witness in this area. We bring reproach on the name of Jesus when we conduct ourselves poorly to a watching world. Remember, our goal ultimately is twofold: to see God’s name glorified and to see sinners come to Christ.
Another key area is our witness in the home. As a husband and father of 2 girls, this is an area which is often the hardest and most important in my Christian walk. One of the key things is pursuing holiness in our lives. When our family members see us striving for holiness, this will inevitable point them to Christ. As a husband, loving sacrificially is my mandate and it can be challenging. I have to continually pray and ask the Lord for help in this area. As a father, I am told in the Word not to provoke my children to anger, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Children observe everything you do and can quickly point out when you are doing something wrong. Being a witness to my children is not only training them in the Lord’s way, but also being able to show them how Christ has changed my life - to be real with them and to show that there is still sin in my life, and even to be able to ask them for forgiveness.
Some concluding thoughts – firstly, we have a Heavenly Father that loves us!
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Secondly, we do not strive to be faithful witnesses to be approved, we are faithful witnesses because we are approved.
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…” (Titus 3:5)
Thirdly, we know our reward in heaven.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
The amazing thing is that God would use weak and fragile vessels for His Glory, and we can take much comfort that he has not left us alone but given us His Spirit.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11)