Lifestyle Witness

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.  James 3:17, 18.

As believers our greatest witness is living in contrast to the world’s values.  In fact, probably the most effective form of confronting the sin of the world is to be a light of difference in the face of their darkness by who we are.  Words mean nothing without contextual weight, the same with the gospel and truth of the Word.  If we preach the Word of God without giving people the context of why it’s so important to change, they won’t be convicted to accept it.

I don’t believe the gospel will ever be effective in the world if all we do is preach against the sin.  Instead our lives should show what living in harmony with God looks like so the world has something with which to compare.  The most effective difference we can be is consistently loving, merciful, forgiving, gracious and moral (by Christ’s standards of course), since these things are in direct contrast with the world at large.

Notice that heaven’s wisdom isn’t based on an incredible philosophy which brings us power, prestige or any sort of influence over God.  Instead it changes our very being—and I meant the word “being” in an active tense not merely as a descriptive term—in order to make us like God.  The subtle difference between Christ and other gods is we don’t attempt to be like Him in order to be God, but for the purpose of mirroring the nature of His character.

John 1:5 claims that even though the Light (Jesus) came into the world, the world couldn’t understand it or grasp it.  That’s important to consider because it explains why they crucified and rejected Him.  It also will explain why those who follow Him will experience the same type of rejection, resistance and ultimately have to die to the world in order to continue living in Christ.

But look at our text above for a moment.  What defining characteristics stand out?  Do you see anywhere that we will conquer the world for Christ either by military or aggressive witnessing practices?  I don’t.  Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in preaching the Word in season and out of season, but I don’t buy into the fact we have to be confronting people constantly about their sin.  If our lives are lived in harmony with the wisdom of heaven, our very lifestyle and attitude will do that far more effectively.  What testifies to peace more:  A man who fights for it or who is at peace?  Again, what is the best example of peace:  A person who preaches it as a means to establishing a kingdom they feel comfortable in or one who simply is peaceful and peaceable?

Whenever we go to buy a car, we get a test drive, right?  Our lives are the world’s test drive for Christ.  If we are sour-faced, lazy, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately followers of Jesus, then the world will wonder what the advantages of serving Him are.  Now the list of negatives isn’t limited to what I’ve written in the previous sentence, of course, but I’m trying to make the point for serving the gospel through example.  If we truly love God, it will show up in the way we approach everything in our lives.  If we have faith God will provide for our needs, we will live without fear in a world riddled with it.

Preaching the principles of the kingdom of heaven only goes so far.  Without some kind of demonstration of God’s provision, how will anyone know our faith actually works to the good?  What we believe has to be seen by everyone as a living testimony to the truth of it, otherwise, why bother?  Paul and his companions worked night and day, according to him, in order that the church would gain by their example—and of course not to be a burden on them as well.  In other words, instead of just preaching about being self-sustaining and independent, Paul and the others lived it out, showing by example what they meant.

Of course in saying we need to be an example to the world and other believers, we open ourselves up for quite a bit of pharisee-ism as well.  The things of God are only illumined—or understood—within the context of the Spirit of God’s revelation.  Too many times a leader who is charismatic or good at theology builds a foundation on some obscure interpretation of Scripture, or, they take a well known truth and put a different slant on it for whatever reason so that it becomes doctrine.

Don’t be sidetracked by seemingly “important” revelations.  “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.”

There’s more to say about this subject, for sure, but my main objective here isn’t to get into an exegesis of this text, rather, I used the text to redirect our thinking to what I believe a true witness should be like.  Too often we think the point of the gospel is to harass the world about their sin into repentance.  Since that never works to change anyone’s heart, it seems to me the best way to “sell” our point of view would be to demonstrate its advantages.  Just like none of us will buy a car unseen or without test driving it, so we shouldn’t expect anyone in the world to just come to Jesus because the Bible says so—or more likely, we think the it’s the strength of our arguments that do the trick.

What did Jesus tell His disciples?  “They will know you are My disciples if you love one another…” The best sermon ever preached is a life dedicated to God in love.


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3 Responses to “Lifestyle Witness”

  1. Jesus Carries Me Says:

    Thanks Jonny. I agree that we point out the darkness by bringing the light to shine in it. That way, the darkness will be seen in contrast to the light and those who love the light will come into the light. When Paul writes to the Ephesians and tells them to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but expose them, I believe that seen in the context, it means we are exposing the deeds of darkness by contrasting it with living as children of the light. Love the post.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    I forgot about that verse, but that’s what I take it to mean. The light exposes the darkness by illumination not anything else. If we live the light, words are many times unnecessary.

    “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

  3. tlc4women Says:

    Thanks! This is great. I believe they shall know us by our fruit and I believe we can either make or break a new believer by our behavior. We should be God’s testimony without ever opening our mouth.

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