How to Testify

1Since many have attempted to set a narrative in order about those things that have been fulfilled among us, 2in the way that those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3it seemed appropriate to me, having carefully investigated all these things from the first, to write to you, most excellent Theophilus, 4that you might know what is certain about the things in which you were instructed. — Luke 1:1-4

I’m again writing a devotional and doing it late. Jody’s schedule is rough this week. I apologize for the delay.

The teacher in me requires me to tell you that I’m not really getting this devotional from Luke. It’s just something that occurred to me while I was discussing this passage in Luke. You’ll see where I connect back to it toward the end.

When someone mentions testimonies I’ll generally think back to “testimony meetings” when I was younger. At certain meetings we would get together and everyone would give a testimony about something that God had done for them. I like meetings where we give a few testimonies as part of a larger program better. For one thing, nobody is afraid to show up because they don’t know what to say!

At those meetings and many since there would be many different types of things people would say. There would be praise for things God had done. There might be prayer requests worked in. There might be devotional thoughts. Occasionally someone would seem to be provoked into giving a testimony by what someone else said. They’d feel they just had to relate an experience like the one they heard. You could generally tell because it was repetitive, and usually referred to someone else’s wonderful testimony.

Some people feel that their testimony must be long and detailed, while others feel that it must be short—sometimes so short that it’s hard to figure out just what it was about. In some circles it’s customary for a testimony to deal with how terribly sinful you are or were, and your redemption. This is repeated over and over in different forms because anything else seems prideful. How can I talk about something good that happened? People might think I’m boasting! So we don’t talk at all.

And of course, there are always the testimony critics around, just waiting to point out that you repeated what someone else said, or that your testimony reflected pride, or on the other hand you may have dwelt too long on your failings, and “provided a bad example for our young people.”

So just how should one testify? I’m glad you asked!

First, testimony is good. It’s relating the way God has led you. It’s about your relationship with God and how that can help other people.

Second, testimony is yours. I don’t mean that it’s not about God, but it is about the way God has led you, the way he has redeemed you, and what he has taught you. (This might be you as part of a group, but it’s still from your perspective.) That means it’s not wrong to let your personality show.

Third, testimony is diverse. God has led us all in many ways and taught us many different things. The way in which you should testify is as unique as you are. When Luke wanted to testify, he did historical research and wrote a book! You don’t have to do the same thing. Just do what God leads.

Now a word to the testimony critics. A testimony is about how God is leading different people, and it is going to reflect those people where they are on their Christian walk. Unlike “critics” who have clearly obtained a sufficient height from which they can judge, the person giving a testimony is a human being with normal weaknesses and strengths. The proper response to someone’s testimony is to praise the Lord for what he has done in that person’s life.

Everything you do and say can become a positive testimony if you let God guide. Whether you are called upon to write a book or merely to smile at someone, let it be a testimony of God’s grace.

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