Do you want to live and speak more boldly for Jesus Christ? I do.
How badly do we want it? Do we want it enough to ask, seek, and knock until God answers us and to take risks that press on our timidity? Or, if we’re honest, would we rather just keep wishing we were bolder — admiring bold people, being inspired by biographies about bold people, talking with our friends and small group members about our struggles with fear of man — all the while staying where we feel safe and relatively comfortable and letting fear go unchallenged?
My flesh likes the second option with a more flattering description. The Spirit says, “If you want to walk with me, choose the first.”
There’s the battle line. “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians [5:17]). But in this battle, there’s no stalemate. One side always holds sway. So, “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua [24:15]).
If we are serious about choosing the Spirit, God will grant us our request (Luke [11:13]; John 15:7), and enable us to “walk by the Spirit [so we] will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians [5:16]).
What Is Christian Boldness?
Boldness, in the biblical sense, is not a personality trait. A typically soft-spoken, introverted, calm person can be bold at a time when a typically driven, outspoken, brash person shrinks back. Boldness is acting, by the power of the Holy Spirit, on an urgent conviction in the face of some threat.
That last sentence contains the three ingredients to Christian boldness: Spirit-empowered conviction, courage, and urgency.
If one of the ingredients is missing, we won’t act boldly. Without sufficient conviction that something ought to be said or done, what’s there to be bold about? Without sufficient courage, we don’t have enough fiber in our conviction to face opposition or threats. Without a sufficient sense of urgency, we lack the fire under our feet to get us moving. People who are halfhearted, fearful, or indifferent are, by definition, not bold.
But if you’re aware of deficiencies in any of these three areas, take heart. The Bible gives us every reason to hope for transformation, and no reason to keep living with debilitating fear.
Jesus Bought Boldness
In Christ, “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith” to God our Father (Ephesians [3:12]).
The truth is there’s no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth that remotely approaches the power of God. He is the only one we need to fear (Luke 12:4–5). And Jesus took upon himself every reason we have to be terrified of God. Now in Christ God is for us. And,
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans [8:31]–32)
If we can now “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews [4:16]), who then should we fear (Psalm 27:1)? Jesus did not die on the cross to have us quivering in a corner because some human being might say something mean, or stop our paychecks, or sever a relationship, or even kill us (Luke 12:4). No! For Jesus has ensured that,
neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans [8:38]–39)
The only reason fear-based timidity remains in us is that we don’t believe these mind-blowing promises. What freezing fears might melt away, like snow in April, if we let the bright rays of Romans 8 shine on our shadowy places of unbelief, even for just a week?
The Spirit Empowers Boldness
After sunbathing in Romans 8, we should take an invigorating walk through the book of Acts and watch how Spirit emboldened the early Christians were.
Peter and John, once frozen with fear, when filled with the Holy Spirit, were out preaching the gospel for everyone to hear (see Acts [2:14]–41). This soon got them arrested — the very thing that had terrified them before — and their boldness astonished the Jewish authorities, who then “recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts [4:13]).
Don’t you want to bear that bold spiritual family resemblance? It requires the Spirit of Jesus (Philippians [1:19]).