"Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."" Matthew 8:4 (NIV)
In part 1, I shared some of my experiences with overcoming fears that kept me from sharing my faith and some things I have learned along the way. In this post, I will discuss testimonies and some objections, or excuses, people have to sharing their faith with someone.
A testimony can be spoken words or silent actions. In the verse above, Jesus tells a man he healed to go show himself to the priest as a "testimony" to them. He didn't say anything about speaking, though, I'm sure the man did, if nothing else, just to tell them I had leprosy and now I'm healed. I believe Jesus did this since it was a command in the Torah (the Laws) for anyone with leprosy to show themselves to the priests to be declared clean. This would allow the man who had been healed to return to his community and family (as a leper he would have be an outcast). In addition to this, Jesus wanted the priests to see that the power of God was at work. The man's family would also see this testimony.
Your testimony doesn't always have to include how you came to believe in Jesus and accept him as your Savior. You could simply share with another person a few thoughts about God's love while talking about the beauty of God's creation while looking at a sunset or a beautiful landscape scene. God can use any and all expressions of your sincere faith and trust in Jesus. In fact, you never know what God will choose to use for His glory. I have had people comment about a simple statement I made such as, "I'm having a great day because God is good," in response to the question, "How are you?" Or, I have had people comment that I'm always smiling (which is an exaggeration, no one can smile all the time) to which I might say something like "I have a lot to smile about, God created a beautiful day for us."
My point is, God gives us many opportunities throughout the day to share our faith and trust in God with someone around us--friends, family, coworkers, or strangers next to you in line at the grocery store. Take advantage of those opportunities. Sometimes, people may respond to you in a negative way but in my experience, most will not. They are more likely to say nothing at all or possibly agree with you, whether they believe it or not. On the other hand, if they do respond negatively, respond in love and merely smile and say nothing or simply affirm that you will have to agree to disagree. Don't argue with the person about it. Trust that God has used you to plant a seed or nurture a seed in some way. If you try to convince them or prove your point you may destroy the seed that has been planted. Your job is to respond with a simple expression about God's love or something along that lines. Let God do the rest. God is able to work on the inside of that person. Who knows, you might be the 10th person God has put in front of them and they may need 2 more "witnesses" before the end of the day before they are ready to speak to someone about God with a receptive heart. You are not the LORD of the Harvest, you are merely 1 of hundreds this person might come into contact with that day. Let God do His work.
If, on the other hand, you feel led to sit and talk with someone and they are receptive, then, who knows, God may be using you to do more than pluck a weed or simply water the soil. God may be using you to play a bigger role in this person's life. Still, don't force it. Be receptive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Share in love and gentleness and don't be afraid of silence. Sometimes, we get so anxious when it is quiet we feel we must fill the void by saying something. I tend to ramble on and on and repeat myself which is not helpful. God has been working on me for a long time to shut my mouth and let Him work on the inside of the person. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the other person to be receptive to God.
Some shy away from sharing their testimony since they don't have a dramatic story to tell. Some testimonies are very exciting to hear but I guarantee you if God puts you in a situation where you have the opportunity to share and you choose to share your experience, God will use it. You may never know how God used you, just trust God to use your obedience and willingness to share.
Have you said any of these? (I know I have):
"If I share my testimony and they don't become Christians then I have failed." This is a common belief but it is not true. Paul tells us that some may plant the seed and another may water it but only God is the one who brings in the harvest. In fact, Paul says, "so neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow" (1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV). If you share with someone and they do accept Jesus as their LORD and Savior then you have done your part but it is still God who brings that person to salvation. You are a worker in His field but He is the LORD of the Harvest. You can continue to pray for this person and trust that God is doing His work in their life.
"I don't know what to say." If God puts you in a situation where you have the opportunity to share with someone He will give you the words to share. Jesus says don't worry about what you will say, the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say in that moment (Matthew 10:19).
"I don't know the Bible that well." You can still share your experience with God. BUT, you should read your Bible every day. Reading the Bible is one of the most important ways God communicates with us. I encourage you to start reading the Bible through every year. There are many Bibles available that divide the Bible into 365 daily readings. I started doing this every year more than 20 years ago and I think it is the most important thing I have ever done related to growing in my relationship with God. The first time through I had some trouble and got behind on my reading but I doubled up and read two day's readings each day till I caught up again. I have to admit, the first couple of years it felt like a chore that I had to complete but it has become one of the joys of each day. I look forward to my daily reading so much that I am often disappointed when it is done. Reading the whole Bible has given me a much better understanding of God's plan of salvation.
"I don't have any verses memorized." You don't have to memorize a lot of verses to be an effective witness. You can choose some key verses related to salvation, mercy, grace, or forgiveness and write them on index cards to carry with you. I used to do this a lot. You'll be surprised how many times during the day you have a few moments to read over and meditate on some of God's Word—sitting at a stoplight, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting in the doctor's waiting room. In our modern era of various devices such as smartphones and tablets you have the potential to have the whole Bible at your fingertips wherever you are. There are many good apps that provide topical lists of Bible verses. Here is the link to a page from my blog that has many Bible verses related to God's plan of salvation-- http://www.livetohonorGOD.com/got-jesus.html
"I get nervous and have trouble speaking." Believe me, I completely understand. I struggled with nerves for many years, but I learned to trust God to be there with me, helping me. It's amazing to me how many times the Holy Spirit has brought Bible verses to my mind while speaking with someone. Verses I hadn't thought about for a while or planned to share but they were the perfect verse for the situation. I can't prepare that well, but, I don't have, the Holy Spirit is there and He is well prepared and knows exactly what needs to be said. Many people get nervous since they are afraid they will say the wrong things. The only, sincere testimony of God's work in your life that is wrong is the one that is never shared. Look at what Paul has to say about this in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV:
"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,  so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
Paul did not rely on his own understanding or wisdom even though he certainly had great knowledge of Jesus. Paul knew that only the Holy Spirit could do what needed to be done in the lives of his audience. We need to remember it's not about us—it is all about Jesus.
"I'm afraid I will be rejected." Be prepared for rejection. You will be rejected if you share your faith with another person more than a few times. They may reject you on the outside but on the inside, the Holy Spirit might be doing a mighty work. BUT, remember this, they are not rejecting you they are rejecting Jesus. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 10:16 NIV:
"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
You may never know how many seeds you plant or how many you nurture—that is not your role, God is the LORD of the Harvest. Your job is to be ready to share the goodness of God whenever He provides the opportunity.
God is honored when you share your faith with others as God provides the opportunity.