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A Good Report

When detailing qualifications for leaders, the apostle Paul stressed the importance of possessing “a good report” from the world (1 Timothy 3:7). In other words, a candidate ready for leadership among God’s people is one who already enjoys a good witness in the community—one who confirms from Monday to Saturday what he affirms on Sunday.

Consider the influence your life has on the unbelievers who observe your lifestyle. These unbelievers may be as close as unsaved family members, but they also include neighbors, coworkers, fellow students and teachers, and even the government. The kind of effect you have on them is one which either establishes or denies your readiness for leadership and influence.

A good testimony can be cultivated by applying these principles:

Obey the law. Anything—from obeying city by-laws to paying taxes—is an opportunity for Christians to either demonstrate their good testimony or provide an opportunity for unbelievers to cast reproach on the name of Christ (1 Peter 2:13–17).

Word hard at your work. From the very beginning, man was created to work and make the world a better place as a reflection of the skill and power of God, and for the good of human beings and creation itself. As such, Christians should be very conscious of their testimony in the workplace—particularly with respect to the quality of their labors (Colossians 3:23).

Live visibly. The more hostile the culture becomes to the gospel, the more Christians consider retreating into isolation. But isolation is no way to fulfill one’s obligation to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14–16; Philippians 2:14–15).

Live intentionally. A true saint engages the world for the purpose of evangelism. Search for ways to be active in the lives of unbelievers, like Jesus did (Matthew 9:10–13).

Love one another. The unusual love believers have for each other is intended not only for the benefit of the Christian community, but also for the benefit of the watching world. By observing this love in genuine display, unbelievers will be attracted to it (John 13:34–35).

Be ready to speak. As important as good works are to evangelization, words are an essential part of sharing the good news (Romans 10:14–17; 1 Peter 3:15–16).

Love the lost. If we truly loved the lost, we would be deeply concerned about whether our actions serve to attract unbelievers to Christ, or drive them away (1 Timothy 1:15).

Wage wise warfare. Christians must be alert to the spiritual battle taking place over their testimony to the watching world. The devil is setting unseen traps—all with the goal of destroying Christian testimony. Such a reality calls for alert and diligent warfare against these schemes (Ephesians 6:11–12; 1 Peter 5:8–10).

— Brad Klassen, adapted