Praising God through Public Testimony
We occasionally set aside time in our worship services for people to share how God is working in their lives. Testimony services were more common years ago. A testimony is simply giving God glory by bearing public witness to his work in your life. The Bible instructs us to honor God in this way.
David sang about his intention to share his testimony in the assembly. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you (Psalm 22:22). He exhorted everyone in the gathering to give glory to God. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him (22:23). In some cases, David asked God to deliver him for the express purpose that he might testify of God’s salvation. Scripture bears out that one of God’s designs for saving us is that we might declare his praises.
What are some of the benefits of setting aside time periodically to share and hear testimonies? For one thing, testimonies give the gospel story flesh and blood. It is one thing to read about God’s saving grace in the Bible, or even to hear a sermon about it. It is something altogether different, however, to see a living-breathing transformed life with your own eyes.
Testimonies also reveal how God is presently working. Sometimes we cannot see what God is up to or how he is moving among us. So it is easy to conclude that he is no longer active or even present. Testimonies remove people’s masks and reveal the real life struggles they are having, and most importantly, how God is helping them in the midst of those struggles. Such transparency is encouraging and reassuring to those still hiding behind their masks.
Most importantly, testimonies lift up Jesus Christ. The focus of a faith story after all is not the person’s faith; it is the object of their faith. A public testimony given properly is little more than propping up Jesus Christ for all to see. It is a finger pointing to the person of Jesus Christ.
So what is the “proper” way to give a public testimony? Isn’t a testimony simply “my story”? How can I possibly tell my story improperly? That is the first potential mistake: to think of it as “my story.” It is not my story; it is his story! My testimony is not about me, it is about God. My story only finds significance as it is absorbed within his story. My life and circumstances are merely windows through which people can see the Light of Jesus Christ. Here are a few simple guidelines to help us keep focused on the Light and not the windows.
First, remember that your primary audience is God. It is his honor you are seeking to elevate. Keep your eyes on him and share your story for him, not to impress others with your faith or obedience. Also, be honest but don’t glorify your sin. Don’t drag people through the mud of your misdeeds. Never name other people unless it is to build them up. Don’t bash other churches or ministries. It is not necessary to ridicule or belittle to elevate Christ. Be conscious of the time. Others may also have something to share. Don’t drone on and on. Share briefly and concisely what God has done for you.
It takes courage to testify publicly. Public speaking is a great fear for many. So pray and ask God’s Spirit to strengthen you and give you the right words to share. If your motive is pure, God will give you power to speak up.
Jesus opened the eyes of a man born blind. His testimony was simple yet powerful, pointing directly at his healer. The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see... One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see (John 9:11, 25).
In the midst of the congregation, I will praise you.