The Greek word for the noun testimony is martyria, which literally means an account or record. According to the Strong’s Concordance, martyria is closely related to the word mylikos, which in English translates as millstone. Contrary to what you may be thinking, a millstone is actually a set of two stones. One stone is positioned at a fixed point and will not move, the other stone is similar to a large wheel that is constantly rotating and turning. Between the two stones are products such as grains and nuts.
Now, what does a millstone have to do with your testimony? Everything. Think about it this way: God is the base stone that will not move. You are the rotating stone that is constantly turning. Between God and you there is conflict taking place. Your sinful human nature is constantly waging war against the kingdom of God. Between God and you, your life and actions are being refined into what you can call your testimony. Your testimony is the result of God and you meeting and purifying the details of your Christian life.
Chapter 12 in the Book of the Revelation tells us that Christians will conquer Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the power of their testimony. By this verse it is obvious that we must first have the blood of the Lamb on our side and through the blood we are given our testimony. I personally was washed in the blood of the Lamb several years ago, but my testimony did not stop the day I was saved. I think it actually began its second half of development. The first half was about how I came to Christ, the second half is about what He brings me through and the amount faith I have in Him to deliver me.
With that being said, what is a testimony? And what is it not?
A testimony is doing what God calls you to do, not what you want to do. In Mark 5 we see Jesus drive demons from a man’s body. Verse 18 says the man wanted to board a boat with Jesus so he could travel and minister with Him. Jesus said no. Jesus told him to go home and tell of what had been done for him. I assure you this probably broke the man’s heart at first. He wanted to spend time with the man who had literally saved his life, and he was told no. Jesus did not need the man to be with Him physically, because He was with him spiritually and had a greater purpose to fulfill for the Kingdom. He needed to give his testimony so others could see Jesus the way he saw Him.
A testimony is action. A testimony is not just a story written in a journal or told from behind a podium. First Peter 4 tells us about a group of Christians who were instructed to avoid sinful Gentile habits so that by avoiding these actions the sinful Gentiles might be drawn to Christ. A testimony is a way to evangelize simply by what you choose to do and what you choose not to do.
A testimony is knowing why do you do what you do. Paul told the people of Galatia that accepting the ritualistic tradition of circumcision would not grant them any advantage in salvation and in turn would not grant any assistance in winning souls to Christ if the world could not understand why they did this (Galatians 5:2). Christ does not want us to go through the motions of our Christian lives blindly. Just as the issue of circumcision was not relevant to aid the Gentile people in finding Christ, so are we useless to the world if we cannot give them answers as to why we do what we do. They need to be able to relate to us if they are to share the Kingdom with us. The world is desperately starving for Jesus and most of them don’t know it. While ordinances and traditions are not bad, they become stumbling blocks when we forget why do them. The world may see us drinking our grape juice and eating our wafers, but do they understand it? They may see us being submerged in water in front of our families and friends, but do they understand it? They may see us giving away money, time, and energy, but do they understand it? Do not blindly live your Christian life. If our testimonies are action, shouldn’t we know what our actions mean to us?
A testimony is not a one-time event. Unlike your salvation, which was instantaneous, your testimony is ever growing and ever changing. Philippians 1:6 says that Christ started a good work in His children and will be faithful to finish it. That means it is still in the works. So, don’t expect to get it right every time. Do not think your testimony is ruined because you made a mistake, even if it cost you dearly. God can take that mistake and make it into something beautiful. The Bible is clear that God is greater than Satan and greater than us. Your testimony is ever changing. Don’t be caught off guard when you look back at your life or look ahead and find a change of plans that was not or is not in your plans.
A testimony is not a tell-all. This is a biggie. There are numerous verses in Proverbs about being silent, but none speaks louder to me than 12:23; “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.” Sometimes, concealing things is for the better. However, I would never tell you to conceal anything that God has told you to speak of. But sometimes God tells us to keep quiet. Maybe there is a moment in your testimony that would potentially ruin you or others. You will probably be compelled to tell this at some point, but make sure you and God are on the same page—His page. My pastor once told me something along the lines of this: “Andrew, while it may seem noble to want to divulge all your secrets in hopes that they may help another person and clear your conscience; sometimes it is best to make sure you can handle the repercussions of what you say and make sure God is ready for you to share that.”
A testimony is not necessarily a story of major change, but possibly a story of abstinence. Paul writes to young Timothy telling him that Christ gave a good confession to Pontius Pilot as He was being accused of false charges (1 Timothy 6:1). Not every testimony is filled with sexual misconduct, drug abuse, drunkenness, murder, thievery, or any other of the ‘bigger’ sins. While every person is doomed to Hell until they accept Christ, sometimes people live an easier, simpler life. I think of my testimony in comparison to the testimony of my fiancée. My testimony is riddled with all sorts of sinful misconduct that could have potentially killed or ruined me. Her testimony is that of abstinence; by the grace of God she never dabbled with any potentially life threatening or dangerous sinful habits. Christ stood before His accusers absolutely innocent of all charges against Him. I stand before you all absolutely guilty of my sinful charges, and so does my fiancée; however, her testimony is ‘cleaner’ than mine. While I will be able to relate to those who share similar struggles, she can relate to those who have had the patient endurance. Thank God for His Grace.
A testimony is to be God-honoring, not Satan-honoring. When writing your testimony, do not write in a way that honors Satan. Write it in a way that honors God. The people of Colossi were instructed to give thanks and praise to God in “whatever [they] do, in word or in deed” (Colossians 3:17). In order to give thanks and praise to God you must stop thanking and praising Satan. Don’t say, “I would never praise Satan!” Because I believe we praise Satan in a different way than we praise God. When we praise God we are usually very grateful and possibly even audible. But when we praise Satan it is in more subtle manners, such as in the way we hatefully treat others or in the way we react when a car cuts us off in traffic. Basically, anytime you are not praising and acting godly, you are praising Satan. When you write your testimony make sure you are not giving people a list of sins you thoroughly enjoyed and miss now that you are a Christian. Your life as a testimony is all about honoring God and cutting Satan out of the picture as much as possible.