So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the Gospel, by the power of God. (2 Tim 1: 8)
I have always marveled at people who say Christians are arrogant when they say they are saved. They accuse Christians of having a ‘holier than thou’ attitude and pretending to be better than everybody else. But my argument has always been that saying ‘I am saved’ is the peak of meekness. It is the peak of meekness because it is a statement that really talks about someone else. It says by inference that someone has saved me. It says someone has done something for me, so how can that be arrogance? But more than non-believers, Christians need to understand this message.
They need to understand that their testimony is of Christ and what He has done, it is not about them.
The power at work in us is not of our own, it is of God. In the scripture above Paul starts by telling Timothy ‘do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner’. Paul’s circumstances were reason enough for a weak believer to be ashamed to testify about Christ. It was easy for his hearers to ask ‘how can God be powerful, when your father is in prison because of Him?’ It was precisely what they said to Jesus. As he hung on the cross, they said ‘He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One (Luke 23: 35).
They were saying, in other words, ‘if God is really as powerful as you say, how can things be the way they are?’ Christians today are often faced with similar circumstances. You have a patient in hospital, so you think ‘how can I say Jesus heals when my dad is sick? They won’t listen to me’. Or perhaps your spouse is not born again, so when you witness to your friends at work they ask ‘if Jesus saves, why is your husband still a drunkard?’ ‘If God really loves you, why did you fail the exam?’ ‘If you are rich in Christ, why are you broke?’ ‘If God is that powerful, why hasn’t your situation changed?’
Well, here is your answer. Your testimony is of Christ and who he is. We don’t testify about ourselves. We may share a testimony of what God has done for us, and that may encourage others to believe in Him. That has its place. However, that is not the gospel. The gospel is about Christ, and what He can do in the lives of men – even if he has not yet done those things for us.
That is why we must not judge God by our circumstances. We must judge God by who He is. Never let your circumstances restrain you from telling others about Christ. Sometimes it very well may be that your faith despite unpleasant circumstances is what wins people to Christ.
But even if that is not so, you should always remember that our testimony is about Christ. It is about Christ and how he can change the lives of men.
Our witness is never about us; our testimony is of Christ.