I was speaking with some friends of mine this morning about testimonies. What constitutes a testimony to be “great” or “good” or “not so good”? It is a question that has plagued me for a number of years now. “For what reasons?” you might ask? Well, for the first reason, it seems that anytime we have a conference of some kind for our Southern Baptist Convention or our State Conventions or our local Association, the people who give testimonies that are considered to be “great” are those who have been pulled from the dregs of society. You know what I mean: “I was into drugs, sex and rock n’ roll! Then Jesus saved me!” Or, “I was part of the Mafia, a cold-hearted murderer and a captain in the family. Then Jesus saved me!” We always hear from these sorts of people, and I mean not to discredit these testimonies by any means. The fact that Jesus Christ saves anyone who believes Him for salvation is remarkable. And these sort of testimonies are eligible to be considered “great” or “good” testimonies!
Second, I ask these questions because what seems to be a “great” testimony to one person may only be a “good” testimony to another. In other words, one might say that the person who used to be in the Mafia before salvation glorified his position prior to salvation rather than glorifying his Savior. Moreover, the testimony of the one who was into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll glorified being into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll rather than the One who saved them. But we will say that these testimonies are “great” or “good”, but for what reason? Is it because of how bad these people were or how evil they were? Is it because they were in the lowest spots of their lives? If this is the case, who’s to say it was truly the lowest points in anyone’s life? Could they have actually been lower than what is described?
Another reason is that we generally will say this or that testimony was “great” or “good” because it “moved” us or “made us feel” this way or that way. Really? Do we understand testimonies to simply be something that “moves” us, gives us an emotional boost? For many testimonies to be “great” or “good” it seems that they are the ones that really get us charged emotionally, especially at conventions. If someone’s testimony has everyone talking about what the other person experienced it must have been “great” or “good.”
Let me suggest to you that every testimony is “great” and “good.” Any person, whether they were into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, or if they were part of the Mafia, or if they were four-years-old when they realized they were a sinner and needed salvation is “great” and “good.” The fact is that a person who was living life, at any age and in any circumstance, was made alive by Jesus Christ! Every single one of us is dead in trespasses and sin prior to being saved. And to be saved at any time or in any circumstance is “great” and “good” when it is Jesus Christ doing the saving! The only reason our past is important is that it shows us that we were sinners who needed to be saved. It is “great” and “good” because Jesus Christ made us alive in Himself, quickening our dead spirits to life everlasting and abundant and free.
Read how Paul the apostle puts it in Ephesians 2:1-10:
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
You see, it matters not who you are or what you are doing. What matters is that God has made you alive in Christ Jesus. When this happens by His grace and mercy, your testimony, whether you were the one who was into sex, drugs or rock n’ roll or you were the mafioso or you were the one who appeared to be innocent being saved at an early age, then your testimony is “great” and “good!” In other words, what makes a testimony “great” and “good” is what God has done in the life of any of us. All of these examples needed Jesus Christ’s free gift of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins. Every single example could not be saved unless He made them alive by His grace and mercy.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has made us alive in Him and has given us His testimony of His work in our lives!