“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” ~Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT)
So let’s start this off with a question that can have many layers to it…What are the characteristics of a mature witness for Christ? Now I’m sure you have a list of things that you believe makes a mature witness and I just may not give a rebuttal to it just for this simple reason, I may not know it completely myself. My reasoning in this is pretty much based in something that we seem to do and that is we spend time making the list with characteristics that aren’t signs of a mature witness.
Now I realize that being an axe-wielding homicidal maniac may not a good characteristic and it’s something NOT to be BUT it doesn’t deserve to be on the list. As we scroll the list… “Oh here it is, #13. Thou art doth not to be an axe-wielding homicidal maniac if thou art doth to be a mature witness.” It should go without saying and you may be rolling your eyes right now over it but it is something that we do, it’s probably just less severe but you get my gist.
However we bring what not to be into the conversation of what to be all the time. And let’s think this one through, if you were chained to a Roman guard 24-7, like the Apostle Paul was, would you spend that time telling that guard what’s wrong with him “Dudeious Maximumius you’re a poor witness because you’re nothing but an axe-wielding homicidal manic” or would you use that time telling him what he could be if he was resting in Christ Jesus? “Dudeious Maximumius have you ever considered being a Gospel Pioneer?” “Gospel Pioneer you say…hmmm, now there’s a thought.”
The term Gospel Pioneer comes from Gregory Brown’s study on Paul’s Epistle to The Philippians (Philippians: Pursuing Spiritual Maturity). The characteristics of a Gospel pioneer are cool things like being fearless, being courageous, having boldness and can encourage those around him to do likewise. After all we have been called to spread the Gospel to places where it hasn’t been heard and yes that means in our own backyard.
Too often we let circumstances that have no eternal Kingdom value dictate the characteristics we take on as a witness. If we’ve been addicted to one thing or another, it there has been divorce, imprisonment, rejection, financial loss or abuse of some sort, it’s these things that we allow to shape the character of our witness. If we’ve saved and redeemed all we need to do is start our list from that point and choose joy to guide where we glean our traits of character.
Charles Swindoll (in his book “Laugh Again”) makes this really cool statement, “It’s not enough, however, to simply say, “I choose to be joyful.” To choose joy means that we set our minds on the kinds of things specifically listed in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Think of the mind as a bank that regularly receives deposits. By depositing the kinds of thoughts mentioned above, we build up and draw on a rich account that will constantly yield a high dividend called joy.”
As I keep digging into the second half of the first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians I am hoping to discover that joy Paul found within himself to give such a great report on how his brand of Gospel pioneering allowed him to turn prison chains into a pulpit but until then let’s think upon this; despite the circumstances that surrounded the Apostle Paul (being falsely accused, beaten, wrongfully arrested and imprisoned) he chose to continuing moving forward with spreading the Gospel Good News even if his audience was only the Praetorian Guard. Could we make such a choice under those kinda circumstances? It’s a stretch I realize but if we take what Christ endured on His way to The Cross as the baseline for Gospel Pioneering there is much we need to check in at the door when we approach the Throne Room. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
Daily Quote: “Our inner peace will be tossed back and forth according to the whim of events beyond our control. But if we exercise our “right” to choose our attitude—the one basic freedom that can’t be taken away from us—we can choose joy even in the midst of the cruelest circumstances.” ~Charles Swindoll
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.