Part of the way through a series of sermons on missions and evangelism, a dear lady came to me after church one Sunday morning and said, “I could never do that.” “What?” I asked. She said, “Witness to somebody.” When I asked her why, she replied, “I’d be afraid I wouldn’t know what to say.”
Christians often fail to share Christ with those around us, even when we know that they need to hear, even when we want to tell them. One of the biggest reasons why we don’t share Christ with those around us is a simple fear of failure. We’re afraid we won’t explain the Gospel correctly, we’re afraid we’ll mess up the presentation, or we’re afraid that they’ll have questions we can’t answer. And so, rather than risk falling on our faces, we keep quiet.
But Jesus tells us that this fear is completely unnecessary:
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12, NKJV).
He told His disciples about a day when they would be called upon to tell others about the Gospel of Christ. They would not just be faced with the opportunity to tell people they knew or met on the street. They would be called in before the authorities, who would demand that they explain themselves and this message they believed. In a time and place where these authorities could imprison, torture, or even kill a man for what he believed, this would have been an incredibly frightening thing.
Certainly, any one of us would worry terribly about what we should say and how we should say it under such circumstances. But Jesus told the disciples not to worry, because the Holy Spirit Himself would provide the needed words just in time.
If the disciples did not need to be afraid of presenting the Gospel when put on trial because the Holy Spirit would provide the words as these people testified before the authorities, we can also trust that the Holy Spirit can handle our needs and weaknesses as we share the Gospel with others.
A fear of failure in witnessing is based on a great overestimation of our part in evangelism. It is not our job to convince people, but that of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals the truth to people (I Corinthians 2:10). Our job is to open our mouths to share the message and let the Spirit of God connect the Word of God to the hearts of men.
But we put so much weight on our own shoulders when it comes to twisting people’s arms and convincing them into Heaven. It is no wonder that we’re afraid of failing; when we leave God out of the equation, failure is inevitable. In this state of mind, we don’t witness because we’re afraid we won’t lead the person to Christ. The ironic thing is that giving in to that fear guarantees that we won’t lead them to Christ.
If you’re in this category, don’t despair. Next, we’ll discuss how the Bible says to overcome this fear, so that we share the Gospel boldly, as we ought (Ephesians 6:19-20).