You want to speak up. You know you need to. But something stops you. Sometimes it feels like your mouth is wired shut. Every time you try to open your mouth your mind starts playing tricks on you, "Be quiet." "Keep your mouth shut." "You'll sound silly." "Everyone will laugh." "You will be rejected." "It's not a big deal. Just let it go. It won't make any difference anyway."
Or, maybe you have been feeling compelled to talk to your neighbor, or your co-worker, or your son-in-law about their walk with the Lord. You really care about them. You notice things that concern you about the life they are living, but you are afraid of "Turning them off." Every time you see them you say to yourself, "Today is the day." You even pray for the right opportunity. Suddenly there you are standing in the middle of the frozen food section at the grocery store, and look up and there they are. Not another living soul in sight. Just you and them. One on one. You greet each other. You talk about work, the kids, and the weather. In the back of your mind you are thinking, "Say something! Invite them to lunch. Set a time to meet." But you don't. You smile and say, "It's great to see you. See you later." They head off down the aisle toward the dairy products. You head off to the checkout line feeling like you blew it.
Why do we do that? Why are we reluctant to talk about the things that matter most to us, to the people that matter most to us? Why is it so difficult to say the things you know you need to say about God, about Jesus, about His love for us, and our love for them?
The simple answer? Probably fear. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of rejection. Fear of sounding foolish. Fear of being misunderstood.
The solution? Remember that God understands those fears and is already thinking ahead of us.
Here's a good example. The apostle Paul is preaching in Corinth — not the kind of place where faith and holiness and living for God are the common conversation. Nevertheless, he's doing pretty well. People are listening. People are hearing him. People are responding to the message of the gospel. In fact, we are told that, "In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8 NIV).
Great! "Go Paul!"
But, obviously God knew what was ahead for him because the next verses read:
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God (Acts 18:9-11).
If you read ahead, you'll see that things were about to get more difficult for Paul. He eventually left Corinth for Syria, but he kept on speaking. He did not allow his words to be silenced.
We need to speak up:
The Lord said, "Keep it up, and don't let anyone intimidate or silence you."
We need to speak for Him:
Sometimes we need to speak with our words; always with our example.
We are not alone:
The Lord said, "I am with you" and "I have many people in this city." Another way to say this is, "You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city."
If you are serious about living like a Christ follower, there is a good chance that before this week ends, maybe before the day is over, you will have an opportunity staring you in the face when you will hear the Lord say, "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent." When you hear Him say those words, don't stop listening, before you hear the rest of His message, "For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
Keep on speaking.