Are you a bold person? Are you able to speak up and say what needs to be said? Or are you fearfully timid, afraid of what others will think if you say what you know to be true? The reality is that we do need to be careful not to put our foot in our mouth, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Yet, I suspect that there are far more times when we are so worried about speaking inappropriately that we fail to speak up at all and say what really needs to be said at the moment.
“For which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may speak it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:20)
There are times when the issue at hand may not be significant enough to bicker over. Whether baptism should be by immersion or sprinkling, whether we should lift our hands to heaven whether we sing or pray, whether Christians should expect to speak in tongues or not–it isn’t that these are irrelevant issues; it’s just that being on one side of the fence or the other will not separate us from knowing Jesus and fellowshiping with Him. These are issues we should pray about and search the Scripture for, but they should not separate us from other followers of God.
Moreover, there is a fine line between speaking boldly, and speaking foolishly. Speaking boldly is not carelessly calling attention to yourself when you know it will cause unnecessary trouble; it is refusing to back down from the clear truth of Scripture when this needs to be addressed and articulated. At moments when we must attest to what is true staying silent is wrong.
God clearly commands, “Do not quench the Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 5:19) Quenching a fire is throwing water on it; likewise, quenching the Spirit is refusing to let God use me. If, for example, I am discussing whether there is any other way to be forgiven and accepted by God except through Jesus–whether there any other roads that lead to heaven–I must not equivocate simply to please another or to keep the peace: there isn’t any other way and I must not misrepresent what God says. I cannot “…call evil good and good evil…put darkness for light and light for darkness…put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20 NIV) For someone, it may mean the difference between forgiveness and fellowship with Christ, or eternal damnation.
But what if I am too timid? What if I am afraid? The truth is that my ability to speak up for what is true and right is directly connected to my priorities. If my image–my concern with my public perception–is rooted in anything but Jesus, I will be reluctant to speak up. But if “…in him we live and move and have our being;” (Acts 17:28 NIV) if “…to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain;” (Philippians 1:21 NIV) then I will not be afraid of being identified with Him–I will not be ashamed.
And what will be the direct result of my not being ashamed of Jesus? “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-35, 37-38 NIV) May Jesus never be ashamed of me!
May my entire identity be in You. May I be like Moses, who “…thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” (Hebrews 11:26 NLT) Help me never be afraid of being identified with You–never be ashamed of You–that You may never be ashamed of me! Amen.