What do we need to know in order to be an effective witness as a disciple of Jesus?
Continuing in Matthew 10:16-42, we also learn how to be an effective witness as a disciple of Jesus.
(1) We have to use our heads (16)
In verse 16, Jesus tells us we are to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. While we are sheep in the midst of wolves, we don’t have to be stupid sheep. We can use our heads to determine if a situation is not beneficial.
There has to be balance. While we are to be as wise as serpents, we are also to as innocent as doves, so we shouldn’t scheme or trick people.
(2) We must realize everything happens according to God’s plan and He will provide us with what we need because we are valuable to Him (19-20; 29-31).
God is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Nothing happens outside of His control. If we find ourselves standing trial for our beliefs, we can be confident it’s part of God’s plan. Our trial is actually an opportunity to spread the gospel.
When we are called to give an account for our beliefs, we can do so confidently, knowing the Holy Spirit provides what we need. If it is boldness, He will give us boldness. If it is courage, He will give us courage. If it is knowledge of what to say, He will give us the words to speak.
All this means we must rely on the Lord, trust in His plan, and know we are valuable, as we take His message to the world.
(3) Know when to move on (23).
There will be instances when people won’t accept our message. Then there will be times when those same people persecute us. When we face persecution by a whole community, it is time to move on. There are others out there who will accept our message, so we must move on and begin to share our message with them.
(4) Fear God instead of man (26-28).
The fear of men shouldn’t keep us silent. Instead we should fear God. God has the power not only to kill our bodies, but our souls as well. He has the ability to punish us for all eternity. Those who don’t fear Him will face that punishment. So we should fear God instead of man.
The result of fearing God is freedom. Freedom to proclaim Jesus’ message to all. Freedom because we no longer fear what man can do to us.
(5) True peace doesn’t come by avoiding conflict (34-36).
Jesus did not come to bring peace. Jesus came with a message that creates conflict, even conflict in our own families. In order to be an effective witness for the gospel, we have to understand the gospel creates conflict. Not between Christians, but between Christians and the world as we spread the message of the gospel. Understanding that can help us prepare for conflict as we go out with the gospel.
(6) Put Jesus first (37-39).
Two thoughts run though these verses. First, we must put Jesus before our own families. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t take care of our families. It means our belief in Jesus is not based on our families agreement. As well as it means we are willing to be taken from our families because of our beliefs.
John Bunyan faced that decision in his life. In England, there is a State church – the Church of England. In John Bunyan’s time, it was mandatory for you to attend church services.
Bunyan didn’t agree with the Church of England. He thought it was corrupt and void of the true gospel. Instead of attending the state sponsored church services, Bunyan attended an underground church where he would preach the true gospel.
His preaching led to a trial, conviction, and sentencing. Bunyan’s punishment was to be three months imprisonment. Three months came and went, but Bunyan wasn’t released. Instead, the State held him in prison until he agreed not to preach anymore. Bunyan was unwilling to meet their demands. As a result, he ended up spending twelve years in prison. Twelve years away from his family. Twelve years knowing that if he only agreed not to preach the gospel he would be released. But Bunyan stuck to his guns.
He was willing to spend time away from his own family because He put Jesus first. Are we willing to do the same?
If we are going to be an effective witness for Christ, we must be willing to give up all for Jesus, which is the second thought running through these verses.
(7) Know some will accept our message (40-42).
Knowing some will accept our message, should motivate us to continue on. As well as we should be willing to face persecution, knowing what we are doing, the message we are spreading is not in vain.
Reflecting back over the narrative, we learn Jesus’ disciples will face persecution, but it is worth. It is worth it because disciples of Jesus experience a restored relationship with God that results in eternal life.
Not only should our future hope serve as motivation to spread the gospel, but knowing the Lord empowers us and prepares us for our mission should as well. Jesus doesn’t send us out without telling us what to expect. He doesn’t send us out without a game plan. He doesn’t send us out without empowering us for ministry. He provides us with what we need to accomplish His mission.
Knowing these things should motivate us to turn to Jesus as our Savior and serve as His Disciples. Our path won’t be easy, Jesus doesn’t promise us that, but it will be worth it.
So if you call yourself a disciple of Jesus, spread His Word!
Post adapted from my recent sermon: How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World