Summary: A message on the importance of being prepared at all times to give a witness.
BE READY FOR A WITNESS
INTRO: I don’t know how many times someone has said to me, “I had a perfect opportunity to witness to someone today, but it took me by surprise and I missed it.” Success in this world often depends on taking advantage of opportunities when they come your way. By the same token, one of the keys to fruitful witnessing is being ready when God opens the door. Let’s look at some requirements for being ready to witness.
I. READINESS TO WITNESS REQUIRES AN ARDOR (WARMTH OR COMPASSION) OF RELATIONSHIP.
I Have discovered that my effectiveness and faithfulness in sharing Christ can usually be measured by the fervor of my devotional life. That is why Peter began by saying, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”
To sanctify the Lord in your heart means to make Him the holiest thing in your life. It means to put Him above success or pleasure or acceptance or comfort — above anything that you treasure or desire. It means to make Him the love of your life.
Have you ever noticed how a young couple who are in love with each other are fascinated with each other? They constantly gaze at each other. When one speaks the other listens intently. A person in love will never tire of telling the virtues of his chosen mate.
To sanctify the Lord in your heart is to be in love with Him — to be so enraptured with Him that you long to be near Him; you listen when He speaks; and you delight in telling people that you belong to Him.
II. TO BE AN EFFECTIVE WITNESS YOU MUST ALSO BE READY WITH AN ANSWER OF REASON.
ILLUS: The word translated here as “answer” is not a word of simple reply. The word Peter chose to use was a technical term for a lawyer’s reasoned defense. Painstakingly a defense attorney will work, sometimes late into the night, preparing his final presentation to the court. Every word, every expression is carefully measured. He runs the entire address over and over in his mind always aware that the fate of his client will depend on his words. When he approaches the bar the courtroom becomes silent. His words come freely and dramatically, impressing his hearers. He is eloquent because he is prepared.
God does not require you to be a great orator, but He has told you to have an answer of the gospel in your heart. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to do this. You can start by finding a gospel presentation booklet and memorizing it word for word. Practice sharing it with your wife or husband or a close friend. Practice it in your mind, adapting it to different people and situations you might think of. You may be surprised how quickly an opportunity will arise for you to use your preparation.
I know what some of you are thinking. You have been saying to yourself, “I would never have the courage to witness to a lost person.” I know that fear. All of us have to deal with it from time to time. I can remember having a similar fear as a boy in school that the teacher would call on me. If my teacher was asking questions about an assignment that I had not done I would almost get sick with fear.
But there were times when I had done my homework If I had done it well, I would not be afraid at all. Even for the shiest person, preparation takes the edge out of fear. The same is true of witnessing. The more you prepare, the less you will fear to share your faith.
III. READINESS INCLUDES AN ATTITUDE OF RESPECT.
We are to give our witness with “Meekness and fear.” The gospel is never to be presented in a spirit of harshness or offensiveness. We preachers are especially vulnerable to this fault.
ILLUS: Charles Allen, said a man once said to him: “I don’t like our last preacher. He told us we all deserved to go to hell.” Allen replied, “Well, haven’t I told you the same thing?” “Yes,” the man answered, “but you said it like you really didn’t want us to go there.”
Part of our problem is that we confuse boldness with harshness. In reality, the two could not be further apart. Boldness comes from being intent on telling the truth because we believe it. Boldness is the willingness to say what people need to hear even though it may be painful. Harshness, on the other hand, has little to do with conviction or concern.
It rises from fear and dislike. We may fear someone because he is a sinner, or it may be because he is rich, or powerful, or poor, or just different from us. Whatever the reason, fear will dangerously affect our attitude toward people in need.