What It Means to Be Bold (Letters to a Samuel Generation)

This morning I sat in an adult Sunday School class where we watched a video about the death of Jesus, and then began to talk about the impact of His life. It was, said the teacher, a life that was like a stone dropped in the middle of history, creating a ripple effect that spread all over the world. The question was presented to us: how can we, as a church, live lives that will cause a similiar ripple effect? How can we bring the Kingdom of God to the world in a way that will cause a stir and affect the world around us

We broke up into discussion groups, and attempted to come up with some good answers in the space of fifteen-twenty minutes. At the end of this “brainstorming session,” representatives from various groups stood up and shared some of their ideas.

Some said we ought to pray more. Others said that we ought to “use the power of God” more. But overridingly, every group had one answer: what we lack, they said, is boldness.

Boldness in the workplace. Boldness on the street. We should confront sin openly, stand up for what we believe in. It is boldness that will create the needed ripple effect and change the world around us.

As I sat and listened to my brothers and sisters sharing this particular point, I couldn’t help feeling that we were missing the mark somehow.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized why. For most of us, the word “boldness” is synonymous with the word “outspoken.” And the truth is that words are worthless. Without a living, vibrant foundation behind them, words are nothing more than a plastic sword that will melt as soon as a little heat is applied.

St. Francis of Assisi made an oft-quoted comment many years ago: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

In our modern Christian society, the idea of reaching the lost usually conjures up images of a style of evangelism that focuses on street preaching, handing out tracts, and accosting everyone we meet with the words, “Are you saved?” True, these methods have proved effective in the past. They have their place, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. But if we will honestly look at the teaching and examples of Jesus and the New Testament writers, I believe we will find that the Lord and His followers mostly agreed with St. Francis.

For instance, most of us have an idea that Jesus spent most of His time sitting on hilltops preaching at people. The truth is, this was not the focus of His ministry at all. Yes, He did teach—when people asked Him to. Most of His teaching to the masses came in direct response to a question or a circumstance that naturally led to teaching. Even when He did teach, His meanings were often cloaked in mysterious parables that only the true seekers were able to grasp.

If we want to follow the example of Jesus, I think we’ll find that bold words are not the key at all. Instead, it is a boldness in our way of life that will create a ripple effect, and touch the world around us. People came to Jesus and asked Him questions about the Father because His life was a powerful demonstration of that Father. His actions spoke a thousand times louder than His words.

“I have a greater witness than John’s,” Jesus said. “For the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36).

If we are to follow the example of Jesus, then it is our lives—not just our mouths—that should point the way to the Father. I don’t mean that we should all go out and start healing people, raising the dead, and turning water into wine.

God has not necessarily given us all the power to do those things, right now. God has not called us to try and work miracles in our own power, but to imitate the character of Jesus’ life. The power to work miracles is a gift that God gives to His children, and perhaps we will all see miracles done through our hands. But God knows that most of us would use this power to draw people to ourselves, if we had it now. Before we can be given the power to be strong, we must receive the power to be weak—to live lives of humility, honesty, and obedience. The boldness we are called to seek does not lead to a flashy lifestyle or a soapbox mentality. Rather, we are called to seek a life of bold servanthood, quiet faith, and love.

Jesus did not say that His people would be known by their outspokenness, or by their carefully crafted methods of evangelism and their slick church services. Rather, He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

Paul spoke of the emptiness of words without love in I Corinthians 13:1—“ThoughIf I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (NASV).

I believe that a boldness of life is created through love. As we make love for God the primary focus of our life, the ripple effect will come to pass. As we love Him, we will desire to obey Him. A desire for obedience leads to a life of prayer, for it is largely in prayer that we come to see the steps of obedience it is necessary for us to take, and receive the power to take them.

Prayer, as a constant act of communion with God, begins a change in our lives that opens the door for God’s love to flow through us to others, saved and unsaved alike. And therein is the ripple effect created. Miracles begin to happen, as faith works by love and brings the Kingdom of God into our lives.

Yes, we do need boldness in our lives. Boldness of obedience. Boldness of faith. Boldness of love. Rather than creating methods for evangelism and beating ourselves up because we aren’t outspoken enough, perhaps we ought to be focusing anew on our personal relationship with our Father. We need to live our lives as Jesus did, making love for our Father the primary reason for life. Everything else in His life flowed naturally out of the communion of Father and Son.

And so it can be, in our lives. As we love Him boldly, we too will begin to know His love for all the world, and as we demonstrate that love, the needy around us will respond.

When love is the hallmark of our lives, people will begin to ask questions. And then, finally, we can talk. People will listen.

Our lives will have given meaning to our words.


This is an excerpt from Letters to a Samuel Generation, a book about knowing the mind and heart of God. I will be posting from this work until I finish Seeds 2 and can get back to writing new Matthew commentary later this fall. I hope it’s a blessing to you!


Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash




4 responses to “What It Means to Be Bold (Letters to a Samuel Generation)”

  1. William Tuck Avatar

    On Giving to this ministry. I don’t make purchases on PayPal. But it works great for this ministry and a News Paper Subscription. I have been following this Ministry for a few months and it has really helped my walk with God. I’m not interested in Boldness so much now. I want to do what this article imply’ s to me. Have a Loving Relationship with God. Which I have and it’s Fantastic. I let him bring the needy people I can help to me. Mainly Praying for others. Also being a witness for God’s Saving Grace and His Wonderful Kingdom. Which can be Enjoyed right here on earth and in eternity. No matter what there state in life is? John 17:6 is my Prayer to the Heavenly Father in Christ. That like Jesus He will lead me to His Chosen one’s that He wants me to help and be Friends with.

  2. Jeff Goodman Avatar
    Jeff Goodman

    You believe a boldness of life is created through LOVE, and we need to make LOVE for God the primary focus of our lives, and as we LOVE Him, we will desire to obey Him. But what is love? An emotion, an action, an ideal or a combination of any of the two or all three? Before considering me a wise guy or sarcastic, think about the significance of the question. When asked which is the great commandment, Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” So how do we love God? After thinking about it, I realized you’d already answered my question. If we make God the primary focus of our lives, we can’t help but love Him. You truly are a blessing. Would like to support you but will only do so by cash or check. There may be others who feel the same way but I guess you have your reasons.

    1. William Tuck Avatar

      Thank You John Goodman! Good and enjoyable comment!

    2. Rachel Avatar

      Thanks, Jeff! I appreciate your thoughtful comments, as well as your desire to support … you’re right, I do have reasons for limiting payment methods. Thanks for your support in prayer!

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