Witness against yourself?

Something about my manner caused a new co-worker to suspect I was a believer. After determining that I was, he explained mentioning to his wife after his first day at work, “There’s something about Glenn that makes me think he’s a believer.”

While I’m certainly not guarded with people about my Christian faith, I also don’t feel lead to advertise I follow Christ.  Still, when my co-worker asked if I was “saved,” I responded without hesitation.

“Yes indeed, a sinner saved by grace,” I answered, offering my hand.

“Amen brother,” he replied as we warmly shook hands.

To be known as a Christian can be both affirming and sobering – affirming when our manner honors our Lord but when our conduct or attitude falls short of how a Christian is “supposed” to be, our faith claim essentially witnesses against us.

Near the end of the book of Joshua, the people of Israel tried to convince Joshua they will carry on fine after he was gone.  During his farewell speech, Joshua recounted how God made good to the people of Israel by bringing them to the land he promised to give them.  Then Joshua reminded everyone that God would not tolerate any unfaithfulness.  While the people insisted they would remain faithful to God, Joshua answered,

“You are not able to serve the Lord,” he cautioned. “He is a holy God; he is a jealous God….If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will … bring disaster on you…”
— Joshua 24:19, NIV

Joshua had good reason to doubt his fellow Israelites.  After all, he was one of only two of those rescued from Egypt allowed to enter the promised land. All the rest of his contemporaries, except Caleb, died in the desert because they doubted the Lord.  Joshua’s audience now were the doubters’ children who insisted they would succeed where their parents failed.  Unconvinced, Joshua warned,

“You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.’”
— Joshua 24:22, NIV


Did he really say they were ‘witnesses against themselves?’ Doesn’t the Lord want his people to openly proclaim allegiance to him?

If we walk our talk, then yes.  But we tend to fall short.  O.K. we always fall short.

Of course God knows that Israel will mess up even though he is pulling for them not to. Since we read this story as history, we too know they failed, lost the promised land and were carried into exile by their enemies.

Fortunately, God’s plan wasn’t dependent on his chosen people holding up their end.  Back up a few sentences and note that Joshua’s prefaces the warnings part of his message by recounting what the Lord has already done for Israel in spite of their mess-ups!

Speaking through Moses, God notes, “I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.”
— Joshua 24:13, NIV

Get that Israel received a promised land not of their own making not because they were good, but because God was.  Same with us.  Just as God gave his committed, though faltering, chosen people cities they didn’t build and food they didn’t grow, he can and does make things happen in our lives that are in no way attributed to our own efforts.  Why? Because he has a plan for people who follow him as their Lord that somehow works out for their (our) good AND his glory.

Our pledge of allegiance to the Lord may, on one hand, be a witness against when we falter in our faith despite that we intend to be faithful.  But because we are aligned with the only One able to make all our wrongs right, God’s plan works out for us. (See Romans 8:28)

While claiming to belong to the Lord puts us at risk of essentially witnessing against ourselves, in our faltering and dealing with repercussions failure often involves, we often reset with God who restores us and urges us to resume the work he has for us to do.

Seems a little backward, right? Welcome to the Kingdom of God.

Amazing how God has all this figured out down to the most intricate detail.  Do we really matter to him THAT MUCH?