Before we even get to the point of “witnessing,” we certainly want to think about who our neighbors really are. More often than not, when it comes to our neighbors, we are challenged by this question more than we agree with it – “Perhaps, we have spent enough time and energy tending to ourselves, so what’s the big deal about taking an active interest in our neighbors?”
Well, what we fail to realize is that our neighbors are almost an extension of our family- whom we wouldn’t want to offend unnecessarily, while we live with them.
As the Lord Jesus points out in Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” We’ve got to shine through our good works, and glorify the Father in heaven. There is darkness all around. When we become the light of God, it beckons us to shine in the dark lives of people. This can happen when we bear witness to Christ with our neighbors as much as we can.
As we remain challenged by the insight hinted at above, let’s see how we can be most effective as a witness to our neighbors by reading the following four recommendations.
Pray for the ability to love and to serve your neighborhood.
It may be easier to communicate to people, but to love them is the matter of the heart and it ought to flow from the inside out. Service often follows love. Ideally you serve the ones whom you love. Your immediate neighbors could be your family, loved ones, friends etc. Take time to pray to the Lord to fill you with His love to serve your neighborhood. To love the ones who hate you is another task. But the Lord gives grace to the humble. He will help you pray for those who persecute and hate you. With God all things are possible.
How well do you know people’s life stories?
Isn’t it obvious that all people are not open to other people’s stories? You may have to initiate to know the people around you before you even share about your experiences. Believe it or not, it DOESN’T come easy. To walk that extra mile is in many ways a boon. Listen to people as you would want them to listen to you. Each one could have his/her own versions of life. Respect them. It is better to carry an unconditional positive regard along with you whenever you listen and communicate with people. Only when you know where they’ve been looping out, would you be able to pitch in with Jesus.
Allow God to lead you.
Before you reach out to others, you need to trust and allow the Lord to lead you. Truthfully, He is the only one who knows the innermost parts of any human being. When you read Proverbs 3: 5 and 6, it encourages you to trust in the Lord with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding; and in all your ways to acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Before we reach out to someone else, we’ve got to reach out to God first. Only He can reveal the sufferings of people, so that we can pray for them and be an effective witness accordingly. Let God go before us and prepare the way for us to witness as per His will.
Mention the choices, and don’t force them into it.
From the beginning of time, God has been placing choices before all human beings. He is a gentleman who has allowed us to choose between the right and the wrong, even to this very hour. Had He pushed His laws and commandments down our throats, I guess there would be very few or none who would be under His followers list. Salvation is a free gift. But the way you present the gift to those who absolutely need it, has to come from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Hence, it is advisable to present the gospel and to leave the choices in people’s court, whether they accept it or reject it. Let it not sound forceful though. Apply gentleness and kindness. Let your witness win souls to God, by the power of the Spirit. With consent from the listener do we share the good news. Those who receive and accept it would see and bear the fruits.
Let obedience take over.
Quite surprisingly, some Christians try to be smart by their own ways, giving less importance to God’s ways. It is known that God’s ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts. Here lies the importance of obedience in our lives. We ought to move only when He wants us to move. We ought to speak only when He wants us to speak. We ought to reach out to people whenever God allows us to. Not otherwise. Else, you’ll be busy doing all things for God, except for His perfect will. It is better to obey the Lord even in being a witness. He will lead us through.
It was true when Jim Killam quoted – “Being a good neighbor is a natural and effective way to share your faith.” Just imagine how “good” we should be to win over our neighbors. Let us walk with God to make it possible. It is important to reflect on who our God is, in being a witness through our own lives and lifestyles to those around us.