The second part of Chapter 3 of “To The Jew First” talks about what the personal testimony should not be. There are just as many things that the testimony should avoid doing as there are things that the testimony should do. After all, we don’t want to turn people off, or give them the wrong impression right?
Triestman starts out the don’ts by saying that the testimony is not a platform to brag. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) This strength has nothing to do with the capacity of our insignificant strength. We should not make our personal testimony a way for us to talk about how great we are, but, how great God has made us. It is far more powerful to say: “God gave me strength to resist temptation” than it is to say” “After becoming a Christian, I could resist temptation”. The focus needs to be on God, not man!
Along the same lines, the testimony should not reflect any personal sacrifice. Who are we to think that our personal sacrifices are comparable to the sacrifice of Jesus? We may have had to choose between comfort, and Messiah, or even between our earthly families and Messiah, which is hard to do, But Jesus sacrificed his perfect life for our shortcomings. We may sacrifice our secular relationships, but we sacrificed those for self preservation on an eternal scale. Jesus, sinless and perfect, went to the tree willingly even though he had nothing for which to repent. When sacrifice is used in a personal testimony, it should only be the sacrifice of Jesus for us!
Next up is to avoid sensationalism. I remember many stories of the drug and women abusing murderer who turned to Jesus and was saved and got out of prison on good behavior and turned into a prison minister bringing the good news to those in his circumstance. These are valuable stories for those in prison because they are relatable to them. Not so valuable in the street ministry however. Remember, the testimony is short for one, so there isn’t time to go into the details, but, the person you are evangelizing might develop a lack of trust for you after hearing about whatever past sins or crimes you were guilty of. This sensational approach could also hinder the ministry by serving to reinforce the “religion as crutch” opinion. After all, while lost in the deep trenches of horrible sin you needed a way out, and turned to religion. Many non-Christians consider themselves to be moral people, this means that they feel as though they have no need for this crutch. Being lost in sin and then found is not sensational, but often times, that’s the situation of the people that we evangelize, and that’s what they need to hear.
The personal testimony should never be guessed. When you are saved, it shouldn’t take too long before family and friends notice the change in you. Others will notice that you are different than many people they meet on the street. They should not have time to jump to their own conclusions. They should know outright that you are, in fact, different. Very different. You are a child of God and a co-heir to The Kingdom of Heaven! Don’t hide this; otherwise you could appear to be ashamed of the Gospel. If someone asks you why you’re different, they may already have a preconceived notion as to why, and the truth could taint the gospel, if everyone knows why you’re different, then you are more likely to be asked how, and this question is the first step to truly eternal- life changing progress!
Remember that all of these little rules help to refine the personal testimony. Each circumstance is different, and we must all be prepared to meet the people where they are. If they are lost and wandering the desert, then it is our duty to find them and escort them to the living water! Nobody, when given the proper chance, will deny the water after the drought, through faith and prayer we can help anyone to find their way!
So, why do you think that these don’ts are so important? Are there any big surprises in this list? Why do you think that there is such a difference between the church testimony and the street testimony?