When I first received the Lord as a very young man, I had very little understanding about many things. In regards to sharing my experience with Jesus, I knew doing so was a good thing. But my ignorance and spiritual immaturity caused me to make many mistakes.
Before I go any further, let me be clear that my experience may not be similar to yours. We are called to be different things to different people. My story is not meant to be a cookie cutter approach to the faith for people to mimic. Rather, I share these things to inspire others to draw closer to Christ and become everything He wants you to be, not what I want you to be. If somebody can relate to my experiences and be blessed as a result, Amen. If my testimony does not relate to you on a spiritual level, Amen. Nonetheless, I will be obedient to the One inside my heart.
So then, when I was a new Christian I was susceptible to many deceptions. Oftentimes I would feel obligated to witness for the wrong reasons. Instead of being lead by the Spirit, I was motivated by things inspired by other people. I also allowed a guilty conscience to guide my heart instead of God. This resulted in many poor decisions and unsuccessful endeavors.
During this process of failure, I learned that trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons will not yield spiritual fruit. Sharing Christ with others is a noble and righteous thing; doing it your way instead of following God's lead is not. My heart was in the right place but I lacked spiritual discernment. Because of this I made many mistakes.
There are two major lessons I learned that have helped me be more effective in my testimony for Christ:
1) People do not believe in God by choice. It is imperative that people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ be given this information. This is why our Lord commanded us to preach the Gospel to the whole world. However, in America just about everyone has heard about Jesus. Those who have not believed in His name have done so willingly.
Some will claim they do not believe because there is a lack of proof. But if they are like I was, they are using this as an excuse to avoid addressing the subject in their hearts. The truth is, if anybody wants to know if God is real, they need only to ask Him. When I was willing to admit I was a sinner and receive God, no matter who He was or what I needed to do, this is when I received proof in my heart. Unless somebody is willing to accept the truth, no amount of arguing will change their mind.
2) Jesus knows everyone who will accept Him in advance. The bible says before we were born, God knew us. This is what it means to be pre-destined into the Kingdom of God. He doesn't play favorites in regards to eternal salvation; indeed, the bible says God desires everyone to be saved. But in His foreknowledge of who will accept Him, He has crafted a pathway in life for all of His children to find His love.
What does this mean? For me, this revelation meant I didn't have to worry that my mistakes would cause someone to go to hell. The eternal destiny of others does not rest on my ability. God knows exactly what it takes to bring His children to Him; my faults, weaknesses or mistakes will not stop God's eternal plans for salvation. In fact, in crafting His eternal plan, He already had my weaknesses in mind. The bottom line is, God will find a way to reach those who will choose Jesus Christ and salvation no matter what we do or don't do.
Now let me be clear about something. God is counting on us to reach others with the Gospel of Christ; If we don't, who will? It doesn't mean we should sit on our hands and let God or somebody else do the work. But if we try and do the right things for the wrong reasons, we will fail in our attempts.
If I know in my heart that God will not allow His children to slip away, suddenly my anxiety disappears. I simply need to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is leading me to say or do. If I am not successful at first, I do not need to pound the Gospel down somebody's throat. I can share my testimony and leave it at that.
We can only water a plant; it is God who makes it grow. If the truth is not enough for people to accept Jesus, nothing will. Or, perhaps our testimony is a seed being sown in their heart that God will grow at a later date. We may not see results now but our efforts may bear fruit later on.
To summarize, what did I learn? I learned in order to effectively witness to others about Christ, I must do so for the right reasons. If I am allowing myself to be influenced by anything else other than the Holy Spirit, the effectiveness of my testimony will be severely weakened. If I argue instead of having patience by allowing God to work in the hearts of others through my testimony, my efforts will fail. Since God knows everyone who will receive His love in advance, He knows exactly what it takes to bring them to a place of repentance and acceptance. This frees me from the pressure to be perfect or to witness in an overbearing way. Now I can be lead by the Spirit and trust in His plan, rather than force the issue against the will of God.
May we all sacrifice more of ourselves and draw closer to Jesus, so that we can receive spiritual enlightenment and discernment, not only in regards to giving our testimony of Him but also in everything. Amen
(Scripture references: Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 8:29-30, 1Timothy 2:1-4, John 6:39,40)