Have you ever shared your testimony only to be met with snarky remarks or flat-out hatred? Maybe you did not share the entire thing, but just glimpses into the good things God has done in your life. Sometimes, it is received well. Other times, it is not. Sometimes, the fear of how the person will respond is enough to keep you from responding. I can remember a time last year when I felt moved by the Holy Spirit to share part of my testimony with one of my coworkers who had told me she didn’t know that she believed in God. At that time, I wish I could have been as bold as Paul. But to be honest, I was so tired from a long day of teaching and counseling students, that I didn’t listen. I remember feeling the weight of the missed moment. But, I also remember feeling the Holy Spirit comforting my heart that there would be more moments of ministry to come. My friend and I went on to have many more conversations about faith and what scripture says. She even came to a few events the church hosted. Even though she has not yet given her heart to the Lord, I know the seed has been planted. And even though I did not act in boldness at first, the Holy Spirit empowered me many other times to share the good news of Christ with her. So often, we think that when we are met with opposition to our testimony, we need to be silent. We think that we have to say everything just right and that we have to lead them in the salvation prayer right then. But, that is not true as seen in Paul’s many encounters with those he ministered to.
In chapter 21 of Acts, they had just tried killing Paul. A Roman commander had mistaken him for an Egyptian who had led a revolt of 4000 against Rome. Over and over again, Paul says who he really is. He fights for a chance to share the defense of his ministry. He uses the genius move of speaking in their language so that they would know that he was a devout Jew. Everyone was silent. He had grabbed their attention and now it was time to connect with his audience. He shared in verses 3-4, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison…”. He showed them how he respected Jewish tradition and, at one time, was once like them. He was even trained by one of their most respected Rabbis, Gamaliel. They had every reason to listen to Paul. He then shares how he had seen Jesus in a bright light on the road to Damascus. Jesus told him how had chosen Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentiles and that he needed to leave his life of sin. How do the people respond to this incredible testimony? It says in verse 22 that “they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!’” How unreal! Paul literally shared with them how he could relate to them. He knew Jewish tradition, the law, and the Old Testament. Yet, he met the Messiah and it radically changed him. They thought this deserved death.
As we know from reading Acts so far, Paul is no stranger to persecution for sharing the gospel. 2 Corinthians 11 describes the many sufferings Paul went through during his ministry: “Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.” And the list goes on and on. Yet, he was willing to suffer all of this because his mission was that as many people would believe in the Lord as possible because of his message.
So let me encourage you today, be bold in sharing your testimony! Are you going to receive pushback? More than likely, yes. You may be called hateful and you may lose friends. You also might not! You also might get to be the one to lead that person in a prayer for a saving relationship with Jesus. But, we know that the Holy Spirit is working on hearts behind the scenes. We know that we will be counted worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name just as the Apostles and Paul.