I grew up in vibrant youth groups that emphasized the “Be a Good Testimony” argument that is the foundation of much of what is taught to young Christians concerning day to day choices they make. Going to that movie, listening to that music, or dating that boy would not “be a good testimony.” I’ve matured much since then and no longer define “good testimony” in terms of movies or music but more in terms of Biblical love and grace.
John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
But I STILL want to be a good testimony. I want my life to reflect well on God’s name. I want Him to receive glory from what I say and do. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try, nobody notices. “Hey, I’m being faithful! I’m trying to be gracious over here. I just sacrificed out of trust for God. Give God some glory please so I feel the effort was worth it.” Sometimes I sit morosely thinking that I really tried to obey God and make choices that fit with His instructions. But I see no earthly benefit to it. It’s one thing to die to your desire for your own glory. That’s hard to do. But I thought I was supposed to want to see God glorified. How do I handle it when nothing I seem to do matters?
I’m studying Hebrews 11, the Faith Chapter, today in preparation for a Bible study tonight. I was struck by how little in earthly results the saints mentioned saw in their own lifetime. The first one mentioned was Abel, whose act of faith cost him his life, and as far as we know, the only one who witnessed his faith on earth was the one who murdered him.
This reminds me of Job. He testified on earth to God’s glory, but his faith seemed totally lost on those around him. Certainly, his wife and friends didn’t appreciate it. But the testimony in question was bigger than the one on earth that constrains most of us. Job’s story is about testifying in the heavenly places to Satan and the angels, not simply to his wife and friends.
Many times I get it all wrong. I am selfish and sacrifice others to my own agenda. But sometimes I believe I did obey God and sought to endure in love even when it cost me, and those occasions still have meaning and benefit even if I don’t see God glorified through it on earth. No matter what the results on earth, enduring faith always brings God glory in the heavenly places. No one sitting at the table during the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will ever regret enduring with faith on earth.