Scared to speak out?

I am writing a book on fear, so when I come across something in the Scriptures that addresses fear, I take note. As I was reading in Matthew 10, it struck me that Jesus touched on two of my greatest fears: suffering and public speaking!

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, 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.” Matthew 10:16-20 ESV

In Matthew 10, Jesus’ “band of brothers” is complete. At the beginning of the chapter, Matthew lists the 12 who will be with him for the next three years. So the rest of the chapter shows how Jesus began preparing them for what was to come. It was going to be a tough road, and he didn’t want them to be taken by surprise. He wanted them to know that real hardship faced them if they followed him, but that the Holy Spirit would be there to comfort and encourage them. In verse 26, he told them to “have no fear.”

Of course, this message is for us too. When we are questioned about our faith, Jesus promised that the Spirit of the Father will speak through us. I’ve experienced that phenomena. When I was a new Christian, someone asked me how I know the Bible is true. I gave a rambling answer that sounded totally inadequate to my ears, but when I was done talking, the person nodded her head and said, “I see. That makes sense.” I was astounded. I could only assume that God had somehow translated my fumbling response so that it would be persuasive to her. That experience made me more confident in future situations when I had to defend my faith.

So Jesus wants us to speak boldly and confidently, trusting God to give us words we don’t have. He also wants us to realize that we will be persecuted for our faith. Not everyone will believe us and accept what we say, but we still need to speak out regardless, letting fear melt away. This is the hard part for me. I'm a people-pleaser and want others to like me, so saying something that may cause them to reject me causes another fear. But in that fear as in all the others, I need to rest in Jesus and trust him, knowing that he has my back and will never desert me when I need him. When I let that truth soak in, I become pretty fearless.

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