“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”
Pr 11:30 (ESV)
We all know that our words matter. They really do. But how much do they matter? Solomon tells us in Pr 11:30 that our words can be like a tree of life.
We read about the tree of life image in Genesis, Proverbs, and Revelation. I think it’s interesting that this important image is found in the beginning, middle. and end of the Bible. So what exactly is the tree of life?
Originally mentioned in Gen 2:9, this tree, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is found in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve that eating from the tree of life would give them eternal life – it was the key to paradise (Gen 3:22). Because of Adam’s and Eve’s sin, a cherubim with a flaming sword was sent to keep them away from the tree of life, so that eternal life was not accessible to them (Gen 3:24). Some commentaries say this showed God’s mercy on humanity because he wouldn’t allow them to live eternally in a sin-ridden and destructive world.
Revelation further reveals that the tree of life symbolizes eternal life and it will be found in the New Jerusalem, the paradise of God (Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). Putting the explanations in Genesis and Revelation together, we can conclude that the tree of life represents salvation.
So, if our words are like a tree of life, this means that they produce encouragement to others to seek salvation. We, ourselves, cannot be a tree of life; only Jesus can do that, but we can use our words to point others toward Christ.
People, in general, love stories, and telling your salvation story is a great way to point others to the tree of life. Sometimes it can be unnerving to share our personal stories, so remember that no one can refute your story — it is the unique story God gave you to share. We never know when our experiences will encourage someone going through a similar situation. God gave us different experiences to increase our faith, and when we share these experiences, others’ faith can be increased, too.
Before you share your story, it’s a good idea to write it down first. Writing your testimony is a good way to help you think it through, communicate your thoughts effectively, and avoid unnecessary details.
Your testimony should include three main parts:
- A description of what your life was like before you accepted Christ. What types of things did you struggle with? How did you meet your needs for acceptance, value, and purpose?
- A description of how you came to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. What were the circumstances of your life at that time: where were you and who helped you understand your need for Christ? This is a good place to include Scripture and the plan of salvation as it was presented to you.
- A description of what your life is like after you accepted Christ. What actions, thoughts, attitudes, and emotions have changed in your life since that time? A significant change to mention is the understanding that you now have forgiveness and eternal life and the gratefulness you feel because of that! End with details about your current situation.
As you write, keep the following in mind:
- Keep your spoken story to around three minutes.
- Use your own words. Don’t use preachy language or Christian jargon (like “washed in the blood.”)
- Be honest; don’t exaggerate.
- Avoid unnecessary details and include only information that provides a clear picture of your faith and how you value it. For example, when mentioning people, only use a first name; the last name doesn’t add to the story.
Take some time this coming week to write your testimony. Practice reciting it so that you can share it easily, and pray for opportunities to tell it to others. Remember: your story may be the one that leads them to the tree of life!