One of the greatest sins I could ever engage in, is doing something that could give my non-believing brother fuel for his choice to not believe in God. I have a brother that I love with all my heart and soul, and I respect and admire him immensely. He is also a good man with a good heart who lives a good and respectful life. He is a devoted husband, son, and uncle. But my brother doesn't believe in God. Nothing in my life is more important than seeing him begin a search for the truth. Will that ever happen? I don't know but what I do know is this, I don't ever want me to be the stumbling block that keeps him from spending eternity in heaven with the rest of our family. So I will try to make sure that the words that come out of my mouth, the acts the represent the way I live my life, and the love that flows from my relationship with Jesus are the things that he will look at and hopefully someday begin to wonder about. I can't make his choices for him, but what I can do is make sure that my choices represent my God in a positive and loving way.
This personal to me, but it should be personal to all of us because we're all brothers and sisters in Christ and our most important role on this earth is to find ways to bring those who don't believe to a relationship with Jesus. If we can't control the words that come out of our mouths, and the way we live our lives, then we won't ever be able to represent God the way he deserves to be represented.
1 Peter 2:5 says, "And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple; what's more, you are God's holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ" (NLT).
Jesus spoke directly about our responsibility to represent him in Matthew 5:16 when he said, "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father" (NLT).
We need to let our good deeds shine out for all to see, but we also need to recognize that our bad deeds are out there shining for the world to see too. The non-believers around us are watching our bad deeds far more closely than our good deeds. We owe it to Jesus to do the best we can to honor his sacrifice, and we need to recognize that the lost of the world are watching to see how were doing.
—John Atkinson is a pastor at Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi Texas. This adapted article and others like it can be found at http://www.pastorjohnatkinson.com.