As a Christian, I want my reputation – my life-witness – to be a credit to the gospel! I don’t want personal failures, disobedience, irresponsibility or inconsistent living to mar my ability to share Christ with others. I’ve seen too many people who “talked the talk – but did not walk the walk!” On the other hand, what a powerful thing a consistent, Christian life is when the values of the gospel are lived out in practical ways in our culture! When a witness is given verbally and the lifestyle is congruent and both are empowered by the Holy Spirit… WOW! I want to be that kind of Christ-follower!
This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I read the sad account of Jonah, a believer in the Lord, whose disobedience precipitated the wrong kind of witness…
The Lord had directed Jonah to go to Nineveh and prophecy against that evil city. Jonah rebelled and chose to disobey, instead he tried to go to “Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
”God punished him by sending a great storm that nearly destroyed the ship on which he was traveling. Irresponsibly, “Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.” The pagan captain came to him and said, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps your god will give thought to us, that we may not perish!
”The superstitious pagan sailors cast lots to see who might be responsible for bringing this storm upon them. The lot fell upon Jonah! Then the Bible says this…
“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?’ And he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’ Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, ‘What is this that you have done!’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them… Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.“ (Jonah 1:8–16 ESV)
What a sad, sorry witness to the Lord! Yet, in spite of Jonah’s inconsistency and disobedience, God used it to provoke belief in Living God in the lives of pagan sailors!
My prayer today? Oh Lord, may my witness never be a “Jonah witness!” May unbelievers never suffer because of my inconsistency and disobedience! Instead may my “verbal witness always match my life-witness!”