by Mike Ratliff
7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB)
I remember a preacher who filled in for our Pastor one Sunday for some reason. I was about 15 or so at the time. He was an older gentleman with a big booming voice and a head full of white hair. He was so different from our preacher that I actually listened to what he said. I believe that the person from the Bible he was talking about was Isaac. I remember him commenting on the fact that he was timid or shy or fearful. In my mind I thought of that person as shy or bashful by the way he described him. Then he said something I will never forget. He said, “Folks, timidity is not of God.” He then preached a sermon on how God calls His people to be bold and to fear not. Those who are fearful are those of little faith who make decisions that reflect their fear instead of reflecting a trust of God through their faith. He said that those who walk in fear and timidity are actually not in obedience to God and are therefore operating from pride. Their fear was the product of their pride as it did all it could do to protect self. However, those who walk in boldness are the truly humble believers because they lay aside self-protection while obeying God for His glory.
I remember hearing that and being dumbfounded. It was exactly the opposite of how we think; at least it was for me. Our natural minds conceive of timid people as the humble and the bold as the proud. However, if a believer is bold in the power of the Holy Spirit they are that way because they see their true position before the Lord by faith then they act accordingly. However, the timid believer is one who is not trusting God, but believes that if they obey Him they are taking a greater risk than they want to take. They are not being humble and obedient, but are being prideful and disobedient. Also, the boldness I am writing about here is boldness by the Spirit-led, not boldness that is presumption. The former is a product of genuine humility while the latter comes from pride. On the other hand, genuine believers are wise if they do fear God. That is good fear, but God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. This fear is the fear of men or the fear of failure or the fear of circumstances all based on self-focus that produces disobedience instead of boldly obeying God as He commands.
1 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9 (NASB)
God commanded Joshua to be strong and of good courage three times in this passage. (v6, v7, and v9) God told him that He would be with Him always and that no one could stand before Him. Just as He had been with Moses, so would He be with him. Also, he told him that he must know the law and do it. He must meditate on it day and night and observe to do all that is written in it. Joshua would naturally be strong and courageous (not timid or fearful) because of knowing the law and obeying it. In His obedience to God to do this he would find that he could obey Him without fear or dismay. Why? The Lord his God would be with him wherever he went.
Timidity is paralyzing and is the fruit of pride. Boldness is the fruit of humility that bows the knee to God’s will and obeys Him no matter how fearful things look. Again, we are not talking about presumption here. This boldness is stepping out on faith in the face of long odds by the reckoning of a fleshly viewpoint. However, the odds aren’t long at all if God is with us.
18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; 22 for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples devise futile things?
26 ‘The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:18-31 (NASB)
I pray that you carefully read the passage above from Acts 4. Peter and John were threatened with harm if they did not stop preaching in the name of Jesus. What did they say back to the Sanhedrin? They said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After their release they told the brethren what happened. What did they do then? Then were filled with the spirit in prayer, praise, and worship. Look in v31. As they were filled with the Holy Spirit they spoke the word of God with boldness. This is the calling of the church. God commands us to not be fearful, but be bold and courageous because He is with us.
Now, there is more to this than simply wanting this. Our lives must reflect on the inside what is going on outside. We cannot be strong in the Spirit (Spirit-led) if we are mired in sin. If we are not walking in repentance then how can we be bold in the Lord? If we are seeking our own in secret, how can we be obedient with great boldness and courage in public? The cost of obedience can be high in the temporal. Those who are fleshly are not going to risk it are they? However, those who walk in obedience and repentance are the ones who see the eternal as vital and more important than the temporal. They see their lives as well spent for their Lord even if they end up in prison or dead or tortured or looked down on by nearly everyone. These are the bold. The timid would never risk it.
33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:33-42 (NASB)
What is the key to boldness? Gamaliel tells us that if God is with someone they cannot be overthrown. Therefore, the obedient servant of God is bold and does a thing the world hates that always brings conviction into the hearts of the people God is reaching through their service. Again Peter and John are hauled before the Sanhedrin. Again, they refuse to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. This time, however, they are beaten before their release. This was probably a flogging with 39 lashes. What was their response? They left the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Did they stop teaching and preaching? No! They continued boldly teaching every day in the temple and from house to house. They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Timidity is not of God. Boldness is of God.
Soli Deo Gloria!