I’m sure this will shock you (it’s hard to rightly express thick sarcasm in print), but I spent a significant amount of my childhood speaking without thinking. There was one time in 6th grade where I had said something obnoxious to one of my teachers, and she told me, “Get a dictionary. Look up the word tact.” Not knowing what it meant, I replied by asking, “Then what?” She smiled at me and said, “It will all make sense once you look it up.”
That was definitely not my finest moment, but it was a great teaching and learning moment. Far too often we speak without thinking, or think without speaking. The passage we looked at in Acts 17 and 18 was a great example of doing both with the gospel in mind.
There’s a lot that takes place in these two chapters, but here are some of the highlights:
Intelligent Proclamation: Paul didn’t deviate away from proclamation, not at all. He simply approached it differently. He employed reason, explanation and persuasion in his attempt to rightly communicate the gospel. Sometimes we make it all about intellect. Other times we make it all about faith. The truth is, it’s both. Let’s proclaim intelligently to those that God places in our lives.
Thinking of All People: Paul was willing to share with anyone and seemed to be willing to go just about anywhere when it came to sharing the gospel. He was compelled by a desire to see people far from God come to know Him more than he was being comfortable socially. What a great challenge for many of us, as we would consider the lengths, people and places that we would be willing to engage when it comes to the gospel.
Mindful of the Cost: There was a great cost in sharing the gospel. Mobs, agitated crowds, insults, mocking, opposition and reviling were all words used to describe the costs that Paul endured. Are we mindful of the costs? Are we willing to endure them?
A Divine Exhortation: Amidst all this, God saw fit to speak directly into Paul’s life. The words of Jesus found in 18:9-10 are powerful. Jesus tells Paul to not fear. Personally, I find great comfort in the fact that even Paul was afraid. We don’t tend to think of him that way, but why else would Jesus tell him this. The reason that Jesus could tell Paul not to fear was what He went on to say, “For I am with you.” There’s plenty that we could fear when it comes to this world and sharing the gospel. Yet the reality is that when Jesus is with us, there’s nothing to fear. Which is exactly what He was telling Paul…and exactly what He wants to communicate to you today.
Let the words of Jesus speak into your life right now. Hear Him say to you, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.”