This week, I want to tap into what I like to coin 'the power of testimony'. Right before I started writing this, I had gotten a fair way through writing on a different topic but found myself getting off track, not going where I felt I was being led because I feel, for this week at least, this is more important to share.
Before I get into Scripture, I want to pose a question to you. I know for those of who go to the youth group, my spontaneous questions at the beginning can be a little startling but hopefully, since this is a blog post, it won't be.
How often have we opened a book written by a Christian author on topics such as sexual temptation, peer pressure or overcoming addiction and felt empowered by the testimony given by the author and how they overcame by the power of God?
Think about that for a moment.
How many of us would like to, one day, look back on our lives, turn to the younger ones around us and say "This is how I overcame."
Wouldn't that be awesome? For those of you who may be thinking 'What can I say about my life? Sure I've resisted temptation and overcame, but that's meaningless.' Let me share a personal story that may change your mind.
For a while I struggled with partying and smoking weed. I was a born-again Christian and I knew it was wrong but it was difficult to resist the desire to fit into the social groups. During this time, I was meeting with my friend's father who I had been catching up with every now and then to talk about how things were going and I mentioned to him what I was struggling with.
After listening, he shared with me how he resisted temptation one time by getting out of the car when the weed was being handed around and walked 10 miles home. That really astounded me. I was impressed at the measures he had taken
Since then, the Scripture in Matthew 18:9 resonates where Christ said, "And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell" (NIV).
Here, as I understand, Christ is not being literal but He is emphisising the drastic measures one must take in order to avoid sin if need be. In my friend's father's case, it meant walking 10 miles to get home.
Now, here's the point I want to get at: not long after that, when my friends asked me if I wanted to go out, I said "No", traveled with them to where they were going because it meant getting closer to home, then got out of the van and walked away. I was prepared to walk the 2-3 km to get home from the drop-off point if a tuk-tuk (taxi) hadn't have shown up, which was truly a blessing from God.
The testimony I was given was the one I followed. This is what I want to convey. The testimony that others share are the ones that can influence, inspire and revolutionise our spiritual lives one step at a time.
Don't get me wrong at this point. The testimony that reigns over all is Christ's, but sometimes, God uses those around us to share how God has led them, and that God-led testimony may be exactly what God wants us to hear.
Even more so, in the gospels, Jesus confirmed His testimony by the authority of the Father. Now, if we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, the very power of God within us. Does not our testimony hold more than simply human words, but hold the very power of God?
Our testimony can hold much more power than Satan will have us believe.
So who are you listening to? Scripture says, "Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).
You see, in order to have a good testimony to follow, we must be listening to the right people. How do we know we are doing just that?
In Acts 17:11, Luke says, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
The Bereans had the right idea. Measure a person's words and testimony according to what Scripture says, not what the world says.
I think too often, we will take people at their word by what they say, but we must always be careful to make sure what they say matches up with Scripture and if it does, then their testimony is valid. If it isn't, then it is false leading.
That's how simple it is.
There is incredible power in a testimony. Think about Stephen in Acts 7 who testified about the Gospel. What was the result? His face was that of an angel's.
It may not be the same for you as it was for Stephen, but one thing is certain: your testimony will lead you to stand out amongst the crowd and people will see the power of God reigning in your life.
Live the faith and one day, God will use you as a blessing for those you will one day witness to.
Choose your examples carefully. Choose today. Maybe its an elder brother or sister in Christ in your church, maybe a leader at youth group or even one of your parents. Regardless, if they are mature in Christ, their wisdom and testimony is priceless and can save us many struggles that are not worth the pain.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13 NIV).