If you ever struggle with feeling timid about sharing your faith, you’re not alone. Many Christians are overwhelmed by fear when they face the prospect of evangelizing a neighbor or co-worker. I often feel the same pang of fear.
Thankfully, though, we have a hope for overcoming this trepidation. We don’t have to muster up our own courage or make sure that all of our arguments for the gospel are watertight. Rather, God’s Word encourages us about facing spiritual adversity and fear.
“When they deliver you over…”
In Matthew 10, Jesus instructs his disciples about what their ministry will look like, and it’s not exactly an optimistic outlook. Jesus tells them that they can look forward to court appearances and physical punishment. He explains, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
As Jesus describes what the future holds for his closest followers, he touches on a concern that he must observe in their hearts: What if we don’t know what to say or are too afraid to speak? He assures them, “Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
While we may not face the same level of persecution as the apostles, Jesus gives us a pattern to expect: followers of Christ will face opposition from the unbelieving world. Likewise, we have the same salve for the concern the first disciples faced. We have the Spirit of Christ living within us.
If you are a follower of Christ, the same Spirit who hovered over the waters of creation now dwells within your heart, guarding your fragile spirit and bringing the Truth to bear upon your mind. Dwelling within you now is the same Spirit who emboldened Peter and John—those uneducated and common men—to powerfully proclaim the gospel to the religious leaders who questioned them. These are the very same religious leaders who had scared Peter so badly that he denied Jesus three times. The difference, as Acts 4:8 tells us, is that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
“Not a Spirit of Fear…”
As Paul nears the end of his life, he penned Second Timothy. Therefore, these are some of his last words to his young protégé, and he encourages Timothy’s ministry by pointing him to the work of God in his life. The seasoned mentor reminds the young man that he possesses a spirit of power and not fear. Paul is not giving Timothy a pep talk about his inner strength, but he’s pointing the pastor to the gift that is from God.
Whether you are in vocational ministry or not, we can all resonate with the sense of fear when it comes to living as Christian witnesses. But we have a hope greater than our fear, the hope that Jesus has sent us the Helper, who will guide and equip us to carry out his mission. One commentary puts it this way, “The Spirit of God empowering the people of God is sufficient to accomplish the mission of God.”
Satan wants nothing more than for our perceived weaknesses to paralyze us. If you feel like you don’t have all of the answers or if you are weighed down by the fear of rejection, turn to the all-sufficient Lord of the universe. He has given you everything you need to live faithfully.
We are never guaranteed that the Christian life will be easy, but we can rest in the knowledge that God has not left us alone. His Spirit is within you. Pray for boldness and walk confidently, not that you are strong enough or smart enough to face any opposition, but that you possess the Spirit of wisdom and power.