“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Prov. 28:1)
I hate the image that often goes along with being a Christian. My guess is that you have noticed it too. The image is soft, timid, gentle, non-confrontational. It’s easy to take verses that talk about being humble out of context. On the one hand, we exalt Paul’s powerful words, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” while ignoring what Paul says just a few verses later: “On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any others” (2 Cor. 12:10 and 13:2).
Paul viewed weakness as a means that keeps us from boasting, making room for God’s strength and boldness.
The great apostle admonished Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). Just a few verses later, he adds, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1).
Jesus was both strong and bold. He ripped into the Pharisees, overturning their money-grabbing tables, displaying His meekness as controlled power.
How amazing would it be if we emulated the controlled boldness exemplified by Jesus?
In Proverbs, the “wicked” are fearful of their own shadow, and the “righteous” are bold as a lion. (Prov. 28:1) Those who refuse to walk in God’s ways are always looking over their shoulders. Those who trust God first can afford to be bold. Think of Elijah taunting the prophets of Baal. See how Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego defied Nebuchadnezzar and survived the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3)
God invites a holy boldness that is consistent with humility and meekness.
We can say with David, “When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stout-hearted” (Ps 138:3).
For many of us, this call to boldness will be a significant paradigm shift that will require wisdom and discernment. So, let me suggest three ways we might practice holy boldness.
• Be bold in mission – God has given us gifts and talents and wants to empower us to bring His kingdom ways to earth. We are not to be afraid of failure. With wisdom, sound thinking, and confidence, we are to bring our best to serve and impact the world. Is there a place you are timid to test your gifts and talent? Is God calling you to be bold?
• Be bold in trust – Fear and anxiety are the norms. God calls us to be bold in our trust of His love and His goodness. Where might God be challenging you to trust Him more than your fear?
• Be bold in giving – Because God is a God of abundance, we can afford to be bold in giving, both of ourselves and our finances. When we are bold in generosity, we can count on Him to take care of our needs.
Is there a risk of going overboard in our shift toward boldness? Absolutely! Arrogance and self-righteousness are often justified in the name of boldness. Well-aware of this risk, God still calls us to leave the shadows, shine our light, and show the world what it looks like to live unafraid.