We might be tempted to think there is a great deal of boldness evident on the scene today as we hear and see so many pontificating on an endless list of topics. Maybe we should start by recognizing much of this is not boldness, but evidences of being brash.
If we are brash, we speak and act in a self-assertive, rude, noisy, or overbearing way. It is often more bravado than substance. Often it is a disguise for cowardice because it is noise without action.
Boldness requires a willingness to take risks and act in innovative ways, to move in confidence or courage. That is much harder to come by and too often lacking.
Because of the confusion between brashness and boldness, we choose to set aside boldness when boldness is called for.
I was reminded of that recently as I attended a worship service at our son’s church where this topic was central in the morning’s sermon. The pastor reminded all of us of what was so evident in the life of the believers in Acts after Pentecost − boldness. Peter, John, and the other early disciples were not the educated erudite men of the day, but they had been transformed by the truth and power of the Gospel and they spoke about and into a myriad of concerns that changed not only the culture of that time, but also the culture of Christianity that extends to the present.
These early disciples had walked with Jesus and known Him intimately and yet had missed so many key things prior to his death and resurrection. They had been behind the scenes and got to hear the story behind the story and yet missed so much of who Jesus was and who He was calling them to be.
That upper room experience changed everything because it engrafted the truth on their hearts indelibly and helped them move past their fear of others at a time when they had much to fear, a time when their very lives were at stake.
Could it be that we are continuing to spiral farther away from our calling because it is easier to be brash or condemn such foolishness than to seek to know the Lord more fully and embrace boldness?
In some places in the world boldness means putting our lives in jeopardy, but for many of us our fear of what others may think if we speak boldly of the truth we know (not just an opinion) shuts us up and we remain silent when we should speak.
No matter what our calling, each of us is called to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and discernment, to know when we should be silent and when we should speak. Brashness never learns the distinction.
The other nemesis of being bold when that is what is called for is born from our fear of what everyone else may think of us if we are indeed bold. In this group are some of us who stop before ever risking it, as well as others who try it and then falter when a tidal wave pushes back against the truth we share.
We give so much power to others when we fear what they think of us. It can be easy to forget the One whom we should most fear is the Lord and what He thinks of us.
As I was reading in one of Lisa Wingate’s books (Beyond Summer), I found these words:
“It’s not God’s fault that I care so much about what everyone thinks. It’s mine. I’ve been letting them define me. I’ve been giving them all the control, but when you get right down to it, what should matter is whether or not you can live with who you are.”
Perhaps we must recognize what stirs up boldness to speak when we should speak truth is to spend enough time with the Truth Speaker so we understand and know the whole counsel of scripture and then allow the Holy Spirit to use us if that is his choice.
As the contrast between darkness and light grows greater, it will be more difficult for us if we have allowed the fear of others to control us or the popularity of brashness to guide us.
Edmund Burke was once attributed with saying a quote most of us have heard. Even though there is now some question as to whom this quote should be given credit, the quote is still significant:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
The word here that stands out to me is “good.” We may go about doing things in the hope of making this a better world, but unless our motives are pure and our truth everlasting no triumph will come.
Why is there a dilemma about boldness?
Because we must face the difficult choice between two or more alternatives. Sometimes neither choice is desirable.
The content of our character will determine the course we choose and that can only come from the character of the only One who was and is good working within us.