“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (Mt.10: 32)
After experiencing a new relationship with Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, I was eager to share about my experience with others. One of the first persons I shared with was Pete, a colleague who I had worked closely with earlier in our respective careers for a large international oil company. He seemed quite open to hearing about my experience and its impact on my life.
A few weeks later I was at a company reception and met the executive who headed up our operating division. I was wearing a dove in my lapel which he noticed, and in his gruff New York accent, asked “What’s the bird?” Feeling a bit intimidated, I said, “It’s a dove.” I then went on hesitantly to explain that to some people it means peace and to others it stands for the Holy Spirit. He shot back, “What’s it mean to you?” I said the Holy Spirit, and he said, “Oh,” and walked off.
I thought, “Well, I didn’t handle that very well.” I was upset with myself for muffing an opportunity to talk about the Lord with one of our senior people.
A week later I was having lunch with Pete. He was now on the staff of this executive and when he asked Pete why I was wearing a dove lapel pin, Pete shared my entire experience of meeting Jesus in a new and personal way and how it had impacted my life.
Because of Pete’s relationship with this person he was able to share my testimony in a way that I would never have been able to do myself. This person later became the CEO of the company.
Jesus was rather emphatic with the importance he placed on us bringing his life, truth and presence to the people and circumstances in our lives. He warned, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Mt. 10:33)
When is it appropriate to share our faith and testimony with others?
It is noteworthy that when Jesus sent out the twelve and the seventy-two, he instructed them not to go from house to house, but stay in one place, build relationships and serve the people by healing their illnesses and casting out demons. Only after they had done those things were they to proclaim the gospel and that the kingdom of God was at hand. (Luke 10: 1-24)
This guidance is appropriate for us as well. While God is able to act in any circumstance, we represent him best when we develop a relationship and seek to serve the needs of the person before we start sharing our own experience with the Lord. Words have more credibility when preceded by friendship and service. Missionaries have been following this practice for centuries.
Jesus said, “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt. 10:16)