Have you ever heard someone say that they witness by what they do rather than by what they say? This usually goes along with the argument that people need to see us living for Christ and we should not say anything until we are living right. Let me say it right up front. The silent witness for Christ is no witness at all.
Today I want to break down the myth of the silent witness for Christ.
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to our witness for Christ, actions do not speak louder than words. Actions say nothing clear unless accompanied by words.
If you treat people nicely, don’t take revenge, don’t break the law, and are faithful to your spouse, but don’t say anything about your faith in Christ or testify to the truth of Christ, then how are you different from a nice atheist, or a gentle Buddhist, or a moderate Muslim, or anyone else for that matter?
Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:46-48).
The principle is the same. Just doing good things isn’t enough to tell someone about their need for Jesus. Actions can say different things to different people. Just because you are “good” doesn’t mean you’re a good witness. You’ve heard the old saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.” The idea is that your words must be backed up with actions. That’s a good axiom. But for many Christians it’s the opposite. They must be challenged to put their mouths where their money is. Your actions mean nothing for the Gospel if not also expressed in the words that bring eternal life. Your good deeds will save no one unless they also have the words.
Now, someone might say, “What about I Peter 3:1-2, where Peter says wives can win their husbands without speaking?”
This passage doesn’t say that. I Peter 3:1-4 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
In context, this passage is essentially a rebuke to wives who harass their husbands about spiritual things but don’t back up their talk with their walk. Peter isn’t saying to be silent. He is saying we should be consistent. Let your behavior speak the same as your words, then, when you are not speaking your husbands can be won “without a word” because your conduct is not only good, but it matches what you are saying. As an aside, the passage also says that women should be subject to their husbands. Gals, are you willing to do this to win your spouse “without a word?” Remember, Peter is speaking of Christian women submitting themselves to their unbelieving husbands. Husbands are also held to the same standard in the following passage in verse seven.
If you work in a secular environment and you’ve never broached the subject of spiritual things, then you may be missing a wonderful opportunity to bless others.
If you’re in school and you “keep your faith to yourself,” then you are throwing away a chance to represent Jesus in front of others that don’t know anything accurately about him.
If you know your neighbors, but they don’t know you are a Christian, then your neighbors don’t really know you. And perhaps, you may not really understand yourself.
Too many Christians rely on the idea of being a silent witness as an excuse not to be open about their faith. If you have no desire to be open about your faith, then your faith in Christ may not be your supreme desire.
Remember the command of Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Right after he commands that kind of love, he explains what it is supposed to look like. It looks like a person who wears on his body, and decorates his home, and speaks with his mouth the truth about the Lord. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
If your love for Jesus isn’t obvious to all, then perhaps you don’t really love Jesus like you think you do. Remember, a silent witness for Christ is like a silent witness to a crime. Justice is never served by a silent witness to a crime. So too, salvation is never served by a so called silent witness for Christ.