At church a topic came up about testimonies. One person thought a testimony of a righteous life was better than a testimony of a despicable sinner changed. Another person thought it better to the other way around. Can we really evaluate which testimonies are better? The moral sinner that becomes saved verses the vile sinner becoming saved. Those that strive wholehearted to keep from sin as a Christians verses those that backslide. God forbid, each testimony brings us something we can learn from.
From the backslider, we can learn what drew him away: wrong friends, poor Christian examples, inconsistency in the home, his own fleshly desires and not knowing how to overcome them. Was it willfulness? A cold heart towards the things of God or God, Himself? If so how was it developed? How can we help to prevent backsliding in the future? And we can be grateful God brings us back!
From the wholehearted, what made him so? Was it a past experience, parental or church influence, or a godly example? What drives him to keep pure and take such lengths to avoid sin? What are his motives? And most important in my mind, how does he do it? Each of us are different and different things spark us to action, but this person can offer insights into practical ways for each of us to take home and adapt into our lives. Thus, making us stronger, better able to overcome sin, and encouraging others to do the same. Proving all the more Christ is alive in us through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.
The vile sinner, when God brings him to repentance shows God’s abounding grace and can offer us much insight. He can warn of the dangers of sin and its addictive nature. He can also share how sin is never satisfied. Plus of course, he can be a shining light and testimony to the lost of God’s power to change.
The moral person may not have such depraved sins to his record as the one who does not use restraint, but can still testify how God made him aware of his sinful attitudes and motives and how God changed him to be more Christ-like. This by the way, is very important to God: Mt 5 speaks about our hate being equal with murder and our lust being equal to the act of adultery. God looks inward to our motives more then He does outwardly at our actions because God knows what starts within affects our outward behavior.
Numerous times in Scripture God judged his people, not for what they did, rather because of the condition of their hearts, which brought about the evil actions. Is God different today? I fear when we stand before God, many of us, myself at the top, will be full of shame before our God and brethren.
It takes the same power of God to change unrighteous deeds as it does unrighteous thoughts and motives. Let us learn from each and every testimony we hear. Taking to heart that which can cause us to be more like Christ and glorify our Father. While at the same time, taking heed to the warnings presented lest any one of us fall. Knowing of course, that God’s grace, through Christ, will not fail us; nor should it be taken advantage of. The Holy Spirit is ready to empower us to live life as Christ did, but we need to ask Him to do it.