Thursday, May 12, 2022
Some things never change. Human nature is the biggest proof of that. From mankind’s beginnings in the garden of Eden until today, we have not really changed. We have advanced technologically and culturally, but not behaviorally. We have the same dreams of personal fulfillment and the same fears of inadequacy. No matter how advanced we believe we have become on the outside, inside, the nature of man is still the same. We strive for acceptance, and we fear rejection.
This applies to our spiritual lives as well. No matter how strong we think we have become in our faith, we still battle the tendencies of the flesh. No matter how spiritually mature we may claim to be, we still battle the desire to be accepted and the fear of rejection. Satan loves to take our feelings of failure and magnify them in our minds to the point that we become convinced we are worthless. The pride of life convinces us that we should have no weakness. When one is revealed, we are shattered. When will we learn to just be honest and transparent, and trust the grace of God for all of our approval?
Ephesians 6:19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
I’m encouraged by these verses because I see that the Apostle Paul also battled fear. He knew that he needed the warriors of the faith to stand with him in prayer against the enemy of fear so he could accomplish God’s mission. If he didn’t battle with fear, then he wouldn’t have asked for prayer to be fearless – twice! I think the biggest arena of fear in our spiritual lives is witnessing, and in that stadium, we need to take a stronger stand, because Satan is whipping us. Paul knew it was the bottom line of spiritual warfare, for if the Gospel is not shared, then people are not saved, and the Kingdom of God ceases to grow.
Leighton Ford, an evangelist with the Billy Graham Association from 1955 to 1985, wrote a book in 1977 called Good News is for Sharing. In his book he writes the following:
“In preparing for this book, I have talked to a lot of people, and the fear issue comes up front again and again. What makes people hesitate to share their faith? Here are some of the fears that have been mentioned to me:”
- “I am afraid I might do more harm than good.”
- “I don’t know what to say.”
- “I may not be able to give snappy answers to tricky questions.”
- “I may seem bigoted.”
- “I may invade someone’s privacy.”
- “I am afraid I might fail.”
- “I am afraid I might be a hypocrite.”
We can all relate to some of those questions, and have thought them ourselves. But there is an even greater fear than any of these. Dr. Ford continues…
“Perhaps the most common fear, however, is that of being rejected. A survey was given to those attending training sessions for the Billy Graham crusade in Detroit. One question asked, “What is your greatest hindrance to witnessing?” Fifty-one percent answered that they feared how the other person would react! None of us likes to be rejected, ridiculed, or regarded as an oddball.
The fear of rejection is powerful. But notice something about Paul’s request that people pray for him to speak fearlessly about Christ. Do you remember where Paul was when he wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus? He was in jail in Rome. He had already been arrested and imprisoned for witnessing. It would be logical to assume that he had conquered his fears. But he knew that in any situation, the power of the flesh can rise up and defeat the desire to please the Lord, and Paul wanted every piece of the armor in place so he could stand strong, no matter what the consequences. That final piece of God’s armor is this – the army of the Lord standing together in prayer that we would be fearless in carrying out the command of the King to share the Gospel with the whole world.
Paul closes this passage with three important words – as I should. Here’s a test for you. Be careful – it’s going to cut deep. When you are in public, and have an opportunity to include Jesus Christ in your conversation, or to share a biblical principle or truth as a part of a conversation, do you do it or do your fears overwhelm you and keep you silent? If your fears win out, then the reality is that your desire to satisfy self is more powerful than your love for God. OUCH! But it’s true. We will do the things we really want to do. May the joy of your salvation and the hope of eternal glory so overwhelm you that your desire is to please the Lord who saved you. I will be praying that whenever you open your mouth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard, and that you will do it fearlessly.