"Motivation built on guilt never leads to transformation. Conviction by the Holy Spirit leads to repentance and transformation."
See the difference?
This quote came from Matt Chandler's sermon on 1/15 entitled "Here to the Ends of the Earth." He was talking about our desire to witness our faith to others. In 21st century America, we have the opposite problem of the disciples after Christ ascended into heaven. Starting in Acts 2, Peter and the others were driven by the Holy Spirit to preach the crucified and risen Christ to all who would hear...in Jerusalem. But the thought of taking that message into Judea and Samaria as Jesus commanded wasn't quite so appealing. They were more comfortable sticking around at home. So what does God do? He uses Saul to persecute the church and disperse the disciples to where God wanted them to go. Amazing how God works sometimes, isn't it? You think you are making headway in attacking Christianity and all God does is use your efforts to advance His Kingdom in another way.
For a lot of Christians in the U.S., we have a sense that we could be very bold in sharing the gospel in a far off land. But ask us to walk next door to our neighbor's house and share the Gospel and we immediately hesitate. What if he/she thinks I am weird? I don't want things to get awkward between us. I really wouldn't know what to say.
Proximity MATTERS. You are where you are for a reason, for a purpose, for God's delight and glory. Whether it is at work, at home, at the gym, at the grocery store...it doesn't matter. And now that the Spirit brings it to mind...this mentality that says "witness at all times and use words when necessary" is not Biblical and is simply rationalizing your unwillingness to clearly state the Gospel that your faith is based upon to someone who may desperately need to HEAR it. It's a convenient excuse to say that we don't need to talk to witness our faith. Yes, by all means, LIVE as a Christian and be a Godly example to those around you. But don't ever feel like you have done what God has commanded by stopping there and calling it a day. Jesus didn't just perform a miracle and walk away. He taught. He spoke the truth. He engaged people. We are called to do the same.
"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say." - Martin Luther
So, just as a New Year's resolution to lose weight is motivated by guilt and quickly fades into inaction, so are our best human efforts at being "good people". Don't be a good person for the sake of being a good person. After all, you won't ever completely succeed, and to the extent you do, you will face the sin of pride at every turn. Rather, repent of your sin and weakness, that you may be filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit who can truly transform hearts and lives.
In Christ, we are no longer struggling to be free. We are free to struggle. This simply means that we are now free from looking to ourselves for validation and victory because we are assured of our identity in what Christ did for us on the cross. So now we can live in that freedom and fight the battles of sin in our life in His strength knowing that the war is already won. That perspective...that freedom...that truth is truly transformational.