In thinking of witnessing, we have to walk between a narrow and a broad definition. Narrowly defined, witnessing is confined to a rehearsal of a few gospel facts in the hearing of a nonbeliever. Broadly defined, it is whatever we do as Christians before the watching world. Neither of these definitions is satisfactory. The first narrows witness to only our lips; the second broadens it to just being nice. Both our words and our ways are inextricably bound together in witness. It is easy to excuse ourselves by saying either “Well, I told her the gospel!” or “I just live my life before others.” These two extremes seem to have developed more in reaction to each other than on any biblical basis…
To remain silent and let others interpret our actions is wrong; God himself did not do this. The pivotal points of God’s redemptive action in history are accompanied by verbal revelation. God wants us to understand the meaning of his actions. Likewise, we must speak–and speak of Christ–even if we sense our own inconsistency of life. We must speak even when we do not know much about the Bible. We must speak even when it is inconvenient. God is bigger than our sins, our ignorance, our pride. He will honor his word in our mouths.
Nevertheless, at times our actions do speak louder than our words. When John describes our commission to witness, he says that as the Father sent the Son, we are sent to others (Jn. 20:21). God didn’t send a tract; he prepared a body. Likewise, God has prepared your life and personality to demonstrate him. We need to be creative and selfless in our love to others. We need to learn how to be friends as well as perceive the needs of others and do something for them. Much of Jesus’ witness was in response to a question following an act of kindness or a miracle. But we need to make sure that we are not condescending. We should allow others to help us, let them minister to us. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give him some water. We need to learn to be human and treat others as God’s image-bearers. If we are friendly only as long as someone is interested in discussing the gospel, we don’t know much about friendship. We need to listen and seek to serve, not just talk.
Will Metzger, Tell the Truth, 24-25