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On Being a Witness

The only really valuable religious and moral training I ever got as a child came to me from my father, not systematically, but here and there and more or less spontaneously, in the course of ordinary conversations. Father never applied himself, of set purpose, to teach me religion. But if something spiritual was on his mind, it came our more or less naturally. And this is the kind of religious teaching, or any other kind of teaching, that has the most effect. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good fruit; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Thomas Merton. The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith, (1948) Harcourt Inc. p. 59.)

It has always intrigued me when people say they are not good at witnessing. The 20th century mindset of meeting people with an agenda or ultimate purpose of leading a person to Christ, has left many otherwise gifted evangelists feeling inadequate and unprepared as one of those to whom Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses.”

When we have a heart overflowing with the good things of Christ, then Christ becomes a natural outflow of our conversations, not forced, not planned. In the same way we love our spouse and naturally mention them often during conversations with others, so too, our “witness” is in reaching others for Christ.

We don’t have to “witness” every time we cross paths with an unbeliever.

We do witness, however, every time we cross paths with an unbeliever.

What’s the difference? The natural outflow of our heart. When the Holy Spirit presents the opportunity, the mouth speaks what is in the heart.

Recently, I received some good news about a thing for which I was praying. Without thinking, I responded, “Oh! Praise the Lord!” The merchant smiled and chuckled. And that was it. Did I witness? You bet I did! Was it hard? Not at all. It just came out. No differently than if I had been talking to my pastor!

Don’t worry about your witness. Worry about your heart! And you will be a witness!


Father, please help me to fill my heart with things that are pleasing to you so that my heart's overflow will be a witness of your grace, love, and mercy. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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