2002-01-07 - Witnessing to Family and Friends
Titus 3:1-3 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating on another.
When we seek to witness to family and friends we often want to scream, "Why can't you see!!?" That is often not the choicest means of sharing Christ. A consistent and godly witness will often take longer, but may help open up hearts as our families see our lives. There are times for a confrontational and gracious presentation of Christ's love. However, there are also times when we simply model Christ's love as His child and hope those around us will respond in repentance and faith. Salvation is a work of the Spirit upon the hearts of those who will believe in the application of the blood of Christ to them. We sow as best we can, but we long for the Spirit to awaken the soul. So we pray, and seek to be faithful. This is what we, as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), are here to do.
While a clear presentation of the gospel may be a helpful part of our witness to family and friends, a clear daily presentation of the gospel is likely to cause offense. If we feel we have to remind our family and friends of their need for Christ every time we see them, we are not likely to get the results we are praying for. We are to model the Christian life to those who are around us. We are to cultivate a prayer life as part of our life. What better motivation could there be to help us cultivate prayer than concern over the soul of someone we love and care for? Consistency in prayer and life for the souls of those we are close to is a really hard task. We get mad, frustrated, we lose tone, we are selfish, and those close to us know all these things better than anyone else.
Besides seeking to live a godly life in front of others, we also need to be able to admit when we are wrong. A simple, "I'm sorry, I should not have said that, please forgive me," might advance our witness more than telling them about the love of Jesus 50 times would. We have a great thing going for us in witnessing that allows us to admit that we are not perfect, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost," Luke 9:10. While God may use us in the process, it is He who saves. When Andrew found the Messiah in John 1:40-42, he did not bring Peter to himself, but rather, he brought Peter to Christ. We are simply to point the way to Christ, who alone is perfect. Thus in our witness we don't have to pretend that we are perfect.
We can also look for simple ways to be kind to those we are seeking to witness to. We can wash their car for no apparent reason, do those dishes that have been, "saved for later" in the sink, clean the bathroom, get them a card and let them know we care about them. All these and endless other things are ways to witness. We may not even need to remind them that we are doing these things, "in the name of Christ," or to show them the love of Jesus. We need not say the words. If Christ's love is in our actions, they will know it. Such things may lead to opportunities to witness to them in a formal presentation of the love of Christ. "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you," Ephesians 4:32.
Showing Christ's love to family and friends is no easy task. They are likely to point out when we fail. They are likely to make fun of us. They are likely to look for ways to get under our skin. Expect to hear the phrase, "What about that, was that God's will?" when something goes wrong. But also be prepared to give an answer. We should expect to receive questions that are clearly mean spirited. The hard part is to respond in love. We cannot lose focus that they are sinners who do not love Christ. We should not expect them to behave towards us in a Christlike manner. However, we must remember the preciousness of their soul. It is because of our care for them, the value of their souls, and the love that Christ has shown us, that when we are maligned, we can respond in love.
Soli Deo Gloria,