Do great leaders suffer the same fears we normal mortals do? The record indicates that they do. Paul was rejected again in a Jewish synagogue (as in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea and by the philosophers in Athens). Whatever the threat, it was enough to cause the apostle to be afraid.
After he boldly proclaimed the gospel at Corinth, the Jews rejected his message and became threatening. He said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).
Paul felt that it was his “responsibility” to make the gospel clear to his countrymen. Having announced the gospel, he was “clear of [his] responsibility”; he was no longer in “debt” (Rom 1:16). We can see a principle for our day; we are responsible to announce the gospel wherever we can. Paul said, “I have been faithful. No one’s damnation can be blamed on me” (Acts 20:26NLT). How does this apply to us?
The Lord Himself encouraged Paul five times in Acts (9:12; 16:9–-10; 22:17–-18; 23:11; 27:23–-24), each time promising to be at Paul’s side to strengthen and protect him. Jesus gave the promise of His presence to all believers: “Lo, I am with you to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). He gave the same promise to Joshua in 1:5, 9.
Paul was commanded to “stop being afraid” and to “keep on continuously speaking, and do not keep silent.” If Christians were to remain silent, they could avoid persecution and conflict, but our silence could condemn our friends and neighbors to hell: “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph 4:25). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Our God gave us the courage to declare His Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition” (1 Thes 2:2).
Times are different, but God has not changed. His work on earth requires that His disciples speak His word to this generation boldly, clearly, and openly regardless of the consequences. If you ever sense the fear of saying a word for Jesus or the gospel, face it and be bold yet gracious, but never silent.
“Loving Lord, when persecution or conflict comes my way, I will trust You to help me respond calmly, speaking Your truth in love. It will be my privilege to honor You with my life.”