Editor’s Note: Today, as you read or listen to Joshua 2:8-14, Deuteronomy 4:39, and Ephesians 2:8-9, we hope this reflection piece will remind you of the importance of being a witness for God’s glory.
“How do you keep yourself strong in the Lord in a foreign land, where you are isolated and don’t have all the support we have here at home?” A thoughtful friend asked me this some time ago, while my family and I were on a trip home from a foreign field, where we had been serving as missionaries for many years.
Of course, there are many ways to answer this question. Clearly it is Jesus Himself who strengthens me, not anything of my own doing! But on top of that, in His grace, He gives us principles and habits to help us grow strong and stay strong in Him, whether we are facing challenging circumstances as missionaries on the foreign field or faithful followers of Jesus in our own country.
Now it may be a surprise to hear that gossiping and listening to gossip is one of the ways I have been and continue to be encouraged and strong in Jesus. If you were raised in the same way I was, you knew from a young age that gossip was not a good thing. Whispering hurtful and secret things about other people behind their backs and spreading rumors certainly is hurtful and sinful. Of course, that kind of gossip is the opposite of strengthening someone and is something to be avoided.
The gossip I am thinking about is the informal, chatty telling of stories about our God, the stories we just can’t help but tell other people. It’s the gleeful sharing of news about Jesus with others with a desire to hear stories of what He has been doing. This sort of gossip starts with phrases like “Have you heard what God did?” “Did I tell you about how Jesus answered this prayer?” or “You won’t believe this amazing thing I read in God’s Word today!”
I am reminded of the incredible nature of this type of gossip as we are studying the life of Rahab, a Gentile prostitute in Jericho who saved her whole family when she risked her life to hide the Israelite spies. Pretty amazing lady! From the story, it is evident that Rahab had already heard about the God of the two spies before she met them. “I know that the LORD has given you the land … For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites…” (excerpts from Joshua 2:9-10).
How had Rahab heard about God and what He had done? I am pretty sure that there were no newspapers at that time, and I’m certain there was no TV, Facebook, or Instagram! Yet the stories of what God had done for His people had spread far and wide, probably gossiped from one household to another.
And more than just hearing what God had done, Rehab allowed what she had heard to make her brave and strong. While other people’s hearts were melting away, Rahab became braver by hearing what God had done in parting the Red Sea and defeating the mighty kings of the Amorites. Based on what she had heard about this God, she risked her life to hide the spies. In my experience, like Rahab, hearing and believing the stories in the Bible and the testimonies of those around us makes us braver and stronger. For those who chose not to act in the right way to this news, it brings fear and cowardice.
We all have choices as to what we think and talk about. Personally I know I am only about 10 minutes away from falling into a pit of self-pity and despair at anytime if I choose to think about all that is wrong and sad in the world. I am not advocating that we stick our heads in the sand and avoid the truth about what is happening around us. But what is wrong in and around me is not where I am choosing to spend most of my time and energy. I want to surround myself with things that remind me of the truest reality of all, the truth about what God has done and will do in the future. This is primary through what I read in Scripture, and the stories and testimonies of others, including those in my own life whom I choose to listen to.
Before His ascension into heaven, Jesus told His disciples to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). A witness is simply someone who sees what happens and then tells others about it. We, too, can be witnesses to what God has done, not only seeing it in our lives today but also speaking truth to ourselves and others of what God has done in the Bible.
What have I seen Jesus do in my life and the lives of others that I can remind myself of today? Am I “gossiping” to others about what Jesus has done in order to strengthen and challenge them?