Sharing Appreciation of God:
Christ’s Teaching on Testimony
We begin a two-part series on appreciation with a discussion of Christ’s teaching on testimony, i.e., sharing appreciation of God. Our understanding is based on his interactions with people he healed: what he instructed them to do or how he received their reaction to the healing. We examine his interactions with a man he freed from demons and a woman he healed of long-term bleeding. We see that he directed both healing recipients to testify about what God had done for them. He gave a direct instruction to the man freed from demons. However, his instruction to the woman healed of long-term bleeding was indirect: he would not stop looking for her until she came forward and testified. We also recall an example on testimony based on Peter’s interactions with his faith family after God released him miraculously from Herod’s prison.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO SEEK GOD A testimony inspires others to seek God by sharing with them personal experience that illustrates appreciation for his mercy and power and effectiveness in granting prayers and fulfilling promises. In addition to inspiring others by testifying to one’s personal experience of God, giving testimony also is a way to show appreciation to other people that have shared a person’s concern, either through physical contributions or by helping channel the concern’s to God through prayer. It is important to let such people know that God has granted their prayers and inform them so they would direct subsequent prayers according to need.
Jesus encountered a demon-possessed man that lived in the cemetery. He had beaten every available society control but remained a menace to society and danger to himself [Mark 5:1–5]. The man was possessed by multiple demons. The evil spirits inside him recognized Jesus and appealed for leniency knowing their time was up. He granted their request to be released into a herd of pigs, which ran into the lake and drowned as soon as they were invaded by demons expelled from the man.
BY THE MERCY OF GOD We note that it was the evil spirits in the man that communicated with Jesus. The man was simply a mouth piece of the evil spirits but said nothing to Jesus by himself. Also, the man was not brought by any person, so nobody talked to Jesus on his behalf. This leads us to understand that Jesus healed the man because of the mercy of God, not by any person’s prayer or faith.
GO HOME AND GIVE TESTIMONY The man wanted to follow Jesus as he prepared to leave the area. However, Jesus declined and instead told the man to “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” [Mark 5:19]. This was a direct instruction. The man obeyed, went into the Decapolis (Ten Cities) and testified about what Jesus did for him.
Woman with Long Term Bleeding
This is the case of a woman that suffered from bleeding for twelve years, had seen many doctors and spent all she had, but the problem got worse. When she knew that Jesus was in the area and healed every sickness, she believed “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” [Mark 5:29]. She managed to squeeze through the crowd around Jesus and touched his cloak. Her bleeding stopped immediately and “she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” [Mark 5:29].
WHO TOUCHED MY CLOTHES? Jesus insisted on finding who touched his clothes, to the astonishment of his disciples. The woman stepped forward and “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” [Mark 5:33]. After her testimony, Jesus told her that her faith had healed her: “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” [Mark 5:34]. Jesus had looked for her as if something was missing but was satisfied after she testified publicly about her appreciation of what God had done for her. If her physical healing alone was all he cared about, then he would not have looked for her, because she was healed when she touched him. However, her appreciation of God and testifying publicly to the appreciation were important to him. So he looked for her until she stepped forward and testified.
Value of Testimony
Testimony is sharing appreciation of God with other people. There are two aspects to a testimony. The first is a heart-felt appreciation of God for something he has done. The second is sharing the appreciation with others, i.e., testifying publicly about a specific experience of his mercy and power and effectiveness in granting prayers and fulfilling promises.
Testimony is important because it inspires other people to seek God. As we see in his interactions with the man he freed from demons, the woman he healed of long-term bleeding, and several other cases not included in our study, Jesus directs recipients of God’s mercy or power to share their experience and appreciation with other people. The sharing, referred to as testimony, inspires others to seek God.
MOTIVATION FOR TESTIMONY The first motivation to testify is to express appreciation and the second is to share the appreciation with other people. A possible third motivation for testimony is to thank people that have shared a person’s concerns, through physical contributions or by prayer. The testimony provides an opportunity for the people to know that God has granted their prayer, so they will thank God and direct future prayers to continuing needs. Testifying to people that have shared a concern with you is important even if the success is limited.
PETER TESTIFIES TO FAITH FAMILY A good example of testifying to people that have shown concern comes from Peter’s interactions with his faith family after an angel released him from Herod’s prison [Acts 12:12–17]. As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, Peter needed to get away to complete his escape from Herod after the angel led him out of the prison and left him. But he visited with his faith family first. He knew they were praying for him and needed to tell them that God had released him miraculously from the prison. The testimony not only inspired the faith family but also informed them of the developments so they would direct subsequent prayers to remaining needs.
Summary of What We Learned
Share your appreciation of God with others by giving testimony. You will inspire others to seek God when you testify about your experience and why you appreciate God for it. Also, when you are successful in an endeavor, find solution to a problem, or resolve a concern, even if the success or solution is incomplete, give testimony to people that have shared your concern so they can thank God with you and direct subsequent prayers to other needs.