I have a confession to make. I don’t know how to witness to my family and friends.
I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. I’ve studied the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. I’ve had the privilege of personally knowing some of the leading ministers in our faith.
But when it comes to sharing this knowledge and what I know to be right with my family and friends, I don’t know how. Why? Because I don’t know enough? No. Because I don’t want to offend anyone? Well, yes, maybe. But I think there is another deeper reason, a more personal one.
How can I tell anyone about the transforming, saving power of God that can change their life when I don’t think it has changed mine? Not because God doesn’t want to change me or doesn’t have the power to change me, but because I have not surrendered myself to His grace and power to effect that change in me. There, I said it.
Paul says in Romans 7:14, 15, 18, 19, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. … For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” And I cry out with Paul in verse 24, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
A short time before I moved from Nebraska to Kansas, I was given the opportunity to talk with a young man that my husband and I had befriended. It was the first time in the four years we had known each other that he had expressed an interest in religion. I told him that it wasn’t religion that mattered, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I pointed to my Bible and told him that if he wanted to know about God, if he wanted to know how to have a personal relationship with Him, that was where he would find out how.
You’re probably giving me a thumbs up. Good job, right? I believe I told him the right things, but the difficulty for me is the knowledge that while I know what to say, I don’t myself always do what I tell others to do. And it is this fact that keeps me from stepping forward and proclaiming the power of God.
I know what God can do because the Bible tells me. It is undeniable that God has done many things for me my whole life, particularly after my husband’s death, but I still find it so hard to give up the worldly things that have been so much a part of my life for so long; and these things interfere with my desire to study more and to spend time in prayer. How often do we say, “I just don’t have the time,” but in reality, we fill our lives with things that do us no good and keep out the One who wants to share our lives; the only One who can help.
I need a change, a complete change in my life; one that comes only by prayer and study of God’s word, and this is what I find so hard to do. It’s what I want to do, but I don’t.
“The work of gaining salvation is one of co-partnership, a joint operation. There is to be cooperation between God and the repentant sinner. This is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make earnest efforts to overcome that which hinders him from attaining to perfection. But he is wholly dependent upon God for success. Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God. On the one side there is infinite wisdom, compassion, and power; on the other, weakness, sinfulness, absolute helplessness.
“God wishes us to have the mastery over ourselves. But He cannot help us without our consent and co-operation. The divine Spirit works through the powers and faculties given to man. Of ourselves, we are not able to bring the purposes and desires and inclinations into harmony with the will of God; but if we are ‘willing to be made willing,’ the Saviour will accomplish this for us, ‘… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).” The Acts of the Apostles, 482.
Friends, this is what I need. Maybe it’s what you need, too. If we are to be effective witnesses for God, then we must surrender to His Spirit. He will not change us if we are not willing to allow the changing.
“He who would build up a strong, symmetrical character, he who would be a well-balanced Christian, must give all and do all for Christ; for the Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily he must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the word of God, learning its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the standard of Christian excellence. Day by day God works with him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the time of final test. And day by day the believer is working out before men and angels a sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings.” Ibid., 483.
The end is no longer near. Jesus. Is. Coming! There is a world to warn. Family and friends need to be given the opportunity to choose for themselves as the Holy Spirit works in their lives. They must be given the truth with compassion and loving kindness; offending them should not be a concern if in the end, they accept Christ.
But while we are witnessing, we cannot neglect the work needed in our own lives so we are not left behind at Jesus’ appearing. If you aren’t right with God, now is the time because time is almost up.
Let this be our daily prayer: “I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).
[All emphasis supplied.]
Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org