We talk a lot about it as believers.
As we should.
We are Christ’s ambassadors, and the image we project as we represent our King is important. We cannot represent a compassionate God with outward shows of irresponsibility, corruption, hypocrisy, intolerance, and other subpar behavior.
But there is another aspect to our testimony that is more subtle, and extremely enslaving and limiting. I call it our “inner testimony”. It’s those weaknesses and struggles that remain in our private lives and never see the light of day.
At some level, we all have something that we wrestle with privately. Maybe yours is big or maybe it’s trivial. Maybe no one knows about it, not even those closest to you. If that’s true I’d venture to guess it’s not because you’re leading a double life, but because you’re ashamed and embarrassed for anyone to know (that’s the case more often than not).
So we dig in and we fight alone.
As valiant as we might be, there are days when we come limping off the battlefield dragging our sword behind us and nursing a gaping wound.
In time, those occasional losses start to wear on us, and we become more and more prone to giving up the fight. Sure, we still go through the motions. We beat our chests and rattle our swords and let out the most intimidating cries we can. But deep down, we’ve resigned to the fact that this is what we are and we can’t win. In other words, we start to believe the labels and the lies. Then comes compromise and bad habits and deeper and deeper levels of shame and thoughts of “Well, I surely can’t talk to anyone about this now”.
So you just go with it and try to ‘make up’ for it in other areas of your life. You sacrifice that fight and hope you can win everywhere else. If only you can be the very best Christian (with just this one weakness that no one has to know about…) it will all come out in the wash, as they say.
Here’s the truth:
If you indulge that secret weakness – pornography, sexual misconduct, sneaking hits of your drug of choice, ducking into the casino or strip club with that little bit of money no one knows you have in an area where no one you know will see you… you could very well get by. You could conceivably get by your entire life.
In theory, your outward testimony could remain intact. After all, when you indulge you’re either by yourself or you’re completely surrounded by unfamiliar faces. ‘You’re not hurting anyone else,’ you reason (though actually, you are). And you can’t show a bad Christian testimony to people who don’t even know you’re Christian. So maybe – maybe – you get away with it.
Now, I could launch into a sermon on Numbers 32:23 (“and be sure you’re sin will find you out”). But the truth is, some people do manage to go to their grave with that secret sin tucked away safely (not because they “got one over,” mind you, but because in His divine wisdom God chose not to expose it).
But even if your outer testimony is never impacted, your inner one will be.
Because these things reinforce our chains. They undermine our confidence, create cracks in our foundation, and on subconscious levels make us insecure and unable to fully engage. You can be effective, and to many it may look like you’re doing great things. Others may see something a little off, but something they can’t quite put their finger on.
Either way you won’t be living up to your potential. You won’t be able to live out the freedom God has for you and impact others the way He intends. Because when your inner testimony is tainted, your whole is out of balance.
So if you’re in that place right now, where you’ve allowed yourself to be resigned to compromising your battle plans – convinced you have to give ‘this’ ground so you can hold ‘that’ – snap out of it. Find an accountability partner, resolve to win the battle on every front, and watch how your outward life can be transformed by a solid inner testimony!