I am always amazed by how much we don't do because of fear.
God commands us to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15), yet we are afraid of any sort of persecution we may face, whether it be as harmless as weird looks or as final as death. Jesus told us "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18), but instead of receiving comfort from our God who is able to sympathize, we either look at those words and shudder at the thought of worldly rejection, or we read these words thinking "Obviously", yet being completely surprised or hurt when the hatred comes.
Fear Loses the Right Perspective
The blatant truth is, we are more concerned about what people think of us, than what God thinks. Don't just say amen or ignore that last statement and keep reading. Stop for a moment and think about it.
If God is most important to us, than what people think will be less important. When opportunities are open before us to tell people about the joy that we have in Christ, we will continually be striving to take advantage of those opportunities.
Obedience Despite Fear
One example is found in Acts 4. Peter and John were in Jerusalem and healed a lame beggar. As the people crowded around in astonishment at what had taken place, the two disciples took the opportunity to preach about Jesus and the resurrection, and many believed. The religious leader in Jerusalem were frustrated, and after arresting them overnight, brought Peter and John before them and demanded to know by whose power they healed the man. The disciples, seizing yet another opportunity, spoke out boldly about the God who redeemed them through Christ Jesus. The religious leaders were shocked at their boldness. They also realized that they couldn't do anything to the disciples because so many of the people had seen God work through the miracle, so the religious leaders ordered the disciples to not speak of Christ anymore.
But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
~ Acts 4:19-20
So many times my response would be to cower in fear. Not Peter and John. They knew their boldness and commitment to the truth could cost them even their very own lives, but they refused to allow fear to prohibit them from faithfully obeying God.
Forsake Fear and Take Courage
Maybe you've been convicted about your fear or lack of boldness for Christ and the gospel. However, simply conviction and knowledge of what you should being do is not enough - you must take what you are learning and begin applying it to your life.
That may mean witnessing to your coworkers. Maybe it means refusing to do be dishonest in various work practices. It could be not laughing at that joke that you know doesn't honour God. It may mean being more generous with your finances or time to support or help others in ministry. Perhaps it means singing or playing Gospel-focused music downtown or taking the time to talk to the homeless people on the streets. For some, it might even mean being committed to write about the Gospel and how it impacts our lives, striving to help others focus on God.
Whatever it may mean in your life to stop fearing man and start fearing God, just do it. Stop saying you'll start tomorrow or next week or next year - God asks us to live obediently for him today.
I'm not saying it will be easy; I'd be lying. It is hard, and it is nerve-wracking. But it's worth it. And as we pray for the courage to give and bring God glory through our lives, we not only receive the joy that comes from faithful obedience, but we find a courage and boldness from Christ that is greater than our fears.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
~ Joshua 1:9