Witnessing - Worth More Than The World

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 13, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

This week we are answering the question of why it is so important to “witness” for Jesus Christ. Consider what the writer of Hebrews says about those whose witness ultimately led to them being martyred for the kingdom. “Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:36-38). These words were written about the many witnesses (aka “martyrs”) from the Old Testament who didn’t even get their names mentioned in the chapter. After the author writes about some of the specific stories of faith in Israel’s history that were to be examples of Christian witness to new believers, he explains that there were many others with less notoriety.

I believe that one of the reasons why the author chooses not to mention these individuals by name in this chapter is because fame is only worth something in this world. Think about it. That would flow right along with what he wrote in the verses I quoted above. Look at each trial they faced. Some of them were physically and emotionally abused, but one’s emotional and physical health are only important in this world. They were chained or put in prison, but those chains could only last as long as this temporary life would allow. They experienced unbearable physical pain and cruel deaths, but they were restored the moment they breathed their last earthly breath. They wore animal skins for clothes, but that’s okay because fashion is irrelevant in heaven where we all are clothed in white. They were poor, but wealth is only good in this world. So along with each of those things, us knowing their names is pointless because they are now in a place where worldly notoriety means nothing! Their willingness to live as true believers even when it cost them everything this world had to offer showed that their witness truly was worth MORE than the world.

What do people see when they look at your witness? Do they see you grasping for the things of this world and doing everything you can to make sure you don’t lose them? Or do they see that you are focused on something they might not be able to see, but that you know is absolutely priceless? Those who were martyred in the early Church likely desired the things of this world just as much as you and I. If you read some of their stories, you’ll see that they had struggles, temptations, and sins just like we do. So it’s not that they were immune from the desires of the flesh. Instead, they simply believed by faith that the reward they couldn’t see was greater than anything they could. To the world, giving up everything (as far as we can see) is crazy. But then again, that’s why the world was not worthy of them and is not worthy of you and I when we experience hardship either because of our faith or as a means to test and strengthen it.

To illustrate this point further, I’ll share two examples from the Old Testament that are not directly named in Hebrews 11. In Daniel 3, we see the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These were three of Daniel’s close friends who had been taken captive along with him during the Babylonian exile. When King Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge golden statue and orders by decree that everyone in the kingdom must bow down and worship it anytime they hear the musical instruments, the three boys (they were likely teenagers) refuse to do so because it would be against their faith in the one true God that is deserving of worship. They had most likely lost their families, their towns had been destroyed, they were probably castrated because that is what the Babylonians did to the young men that they wanted to keep for service after they destroyed everyone else, and they were exiled in a land far from everything they learned and practiced regarding the God of Israel. Add to that their daily exposure to the pagan customs and false religions of Babylon and the witness of these boys was even more courageous. Read the story for yourself and see how the boys stood strong in their faith even as they were led away to the fiery furnace where they were to be completely incinerated. How could they be so strong? I submit that they were convinced beyond all doubt of two things: that God could save them if he wanted and that their reward would be literally OUT OF THIS WORLD if he chose not to. And guess what? Their witness coupled with the move of God started the evil king himself on a path to acknowledging the true God and his power (Daniel 4:37).

The other example is a man who had just about everything you could want in this world. “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3b). While we usually think of witnessing as something done before other people, Job had the most difficult and resistant audience - SATAN! That was how it all started. We see in Job 1 and 2 that Satan comes before God and they have a conversation about Job. Satan claims that Job only follows God because he experiences no hardship, so God allows Satan to begin to take things away from Job little by little to test him. It starts with his property, his wealth, and his children (1:13-22). Then it moves on to his own flesh as he is afflicted with painful sores over his entire body (2:7). Enter Job’s wife, who can’t bear to see the suffering any longer so she urges him to “curse God and die” (2:9). Job’s witness is shown in that he immediately refers to her as an immoral woman and rhetorically asks her, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10)

Like Daniel’s three friends, Job’s attitude and actions in the midst of his suffering were a witness to those who watched. They included his wife, several of his friends, and Satan. Unlike Daniel’s three friends, Job had tons of worldly wealth and every reason to cherish this life. But in the end, Job obviously rendered the value of those things as less than the value of following God wholeheartedly by faith. Job clearly believed that whatever God would have for him would be even better than what he could get in this world.

We live in a materialistic society, which is why witnessing to our faith in Christ and a greater reward that lasts for all of eternity rather than just this temporary life is so important. Remember that others are taking notice of how you live and conduct yourself when your faith is tested. Most of us can say we depend on our faith when intense suffering is distant, but when it comes near to us is really when we have a chance to show the world that what we value is worth way more than what they can see and experience here. As you persevere, remember that the world is not worthy of you!