“And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18)
Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is fear. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden, as were the apostles, to teach of Him, but their courageous answer was: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and so they prayed: “Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29).
More common than the fear of physical persecution or personal harm, however, is the fear of ridicule, or loss of prestige or position. Such fear is out of character for real Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord and those for whom He died, we must learn to conquer our fear of men.
One of the saddest rebukes that could come to a Christian is the indictment lodged against those believers who, because of their high position, refused to take an open stand for Christ: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). How often do modern professionals and businessmen—even theologians—compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure in what should be their spheres of influence and testimony?
May God give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). – Henry M. Morris