Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Biblical Boldness

In the interest of full disclosure, and in the  interest of confessing my faults, let me begin this with both a confession  and an explanation, followed by another confession.
 I am terribly, painfully shy. I am  also cranky and moody. I don't like crowds , and most days I would rather not talk to  people, even people I like. In most  social situations that I am  thrust into, I  put my back to the wall and keep my eyes peeled and my mouth shut.  That's a confession.
  For 19 years now, 12 years of which has been in the same town and in the same church, I have  gone door knocking, telling people about Jesus in accordance with Acts 20:20. Thousands of doors  have been knocked, and hundreds of conversations have resulted.  Every one of them, without exception has been  difficult for me.  Every time, at every door for 19 years it has been like rolling a huge boulder up a hill  only to let it roll back down.  That's an explanation.
  I'm also not particularly  compassionate when people who have far less social awkwardness  tell me that door knocking isn't their 'thing' or it's not the ministry they are 'called to' or that they are 'too shy'. Or that it's hard. Or non-productive. Or any other  number of amazingly vapid things they say.  If they only had any idea how much this isn't my 'thing' and how I am way 'too shy' to do it. People say stupid things like 'I just couldn't do what you do', when they have no concept of how hard it is  for me.  I literally cannot do what I do. It's not easy, and  I'm assuming if it was going to suddenly become easy it would have done it by now. I actually get a little irritated from time to time with excuses that don't even qualify as pathetic, but I have learned, for the most part to keep my mouth shut about it.  Except for, you know,just now.  That's my other confession.
  It's always confused me that if a guy has a bad temper, people tell him he needs to let God help him with it so that he can fulfill the ministry. If a guy  likes to drink, or has a potty mouth  somebody ought to tell him that he needs to let God help him so that he can fulfill the ministry.  But if someone is shy, people give them a pass.  Nobody tells  a shy person that they need to let God help them not be so shy  so that they can fulfill their ministry.  My problem is that I don't think it's a viable excuse, and I refuse to indulge this weakness of mine. I press on  despite my own issues because, among other reasons, Jesus Christ deserves that.  Jesus Christ deserves people who will carry on despite their   own horrific  shortcomings.
  I am very fortunate in that, from the beginning of my  Christian life, I was taught  biblical boldness which  has nothing to do with  how your  personality is actually wired.  Not everyone has had the benefit of this training, so I thought I would cover , assuming you  are shy and awkward and maybe even stutter like I do, what the Bible says about boldness and how to get it if you  don't have it.

"For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:  But even after that we had suffered before , and were shamefully entreated , as ye know , at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.  For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak ; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.  For neither at any time used we flattering words , as ye know , nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:  Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome , as the apostles of Christ.  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." 1 Thess 2:1-8
  Paul proclaimed the  gospel of God with boldness, not only to the lost, but to the saved.  He did so with gentleness in the face of much contention. Paul wasn't an abusive jerk even if people were abusive jerks to him. We are commanded to do  the same, and proceed on in the same spirit.  So how do you do such a thing? I believe there are 4 things you can do. 

1) Live right. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no man pursueth : but the righteous are bold as a lion."  A guilty conscience leads to a  closed mouth.  If you want to be bold for Jesus, you start by living the cleanest life you can.

2) Have confidence in God  Philippians 1:1-14 says "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,  For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.  For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.  And this I pray , that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  That ye may approve things that are excellent ; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  But I would ye should understand , brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;  So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;  And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
 Biblical boldness is not about what you can or cannot do. It's not about your winning personality or your comfort zone. It is entirely a reflection of how much you trust God. Is God going to call to your remembrance the scriptures? Is God going to give you the discernment you need?  If you doubt that he will, your mouth will stay shut.

3) Spend time with Jesus "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled ; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus" Acts 4:13
  Once again, people unqualified to do the job were doing the jobIt was obvious that Peter and John weren't great theologians, but despite that, they proceeded on with boldness.  It is essential that you spend time reading the word of God. It is essential that you have not just a prayer time, but rather a prayer life.  Talking to Jesus when everybody else is talking to Jesus  isn't the same as talking to Jesus alone. Reading the Bible  for yourself isn't the same thing as following along with the preacher.  You need this, and without it, there will be no boldness.

4) Exercise your gifts  People get the order all wrong. they think they will  get courage and then be brave, but that's entirely backwards. As Gerald Sutek says "Courage is the reward for obedience.It comes after the  obedience, not before."  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:13 "For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." The order is clear; they  used their office well and then received boldness.
 I am reminding you of this out of the sincerest heart I can muster. Someday you will stand before Jesus Christ, and it will seem so silly that you were scared or shy. The people that you were worried would trip you up or stump you with some Bible question or laugh at you will be the furthest thing from your mind.  The things you worry about now will be so trivial then, because truth be told, they are trivial now.  For your own sake,  strive for biblical boldness and live and  burn out and die for Jesus Christ.  He deserves no less.


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