I don't know if you are like me, but there are times where I become afraid to share Jesus and His Gospel with people that I meet. I become fearful of how my testimony might be received; fearful that I might be seen as preachy or pushy; even fearful that I will not "get it right."
Even the Apostle Paul must have been subject to this same fear. In Acts 18, Paul is in Corinth. He had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi; left Thessalonica under duress; fled "agitated" crowds in Berea and testified in Athens. Despite the anger of those who opposed Paul's message of salvation through Jesus, a fledgling group of disciples in a new church was formed in each of those cities.
In Corinth, Paul connects with Aquila and Priscilla. He preaches both in the synagogue and to the Gentiles with numerous new disciples being made. Challenges from influential Jewish leaders are about to come down on Paul. God knew that Paul would be afraid so He spoke to him in a vision.
Acts 18:9-10 ESV And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
There are four learnings that I gain for my own witness from Paul's vision.
First, the Lord exhorts Paul "Do not be afraid". That phrase or some version of it (e.g. "fear not") appears 365 times in the Bible. When I think of the fact that God gives me the opportunity to witness for him every day, I find it awesome that there are 365 "do not be afraids" in the Scriptures. If Paul needed it, so do I.
Second, Paul is given an imperative "but go on speaking" and a prohibition "and do not be silent." The Lord gives the same instruction both positively and negatively. Confessing the truth about Jesus and His love is something we are privileged to do at all times. There is never a wrong time to share the Savior King with another person or group.
Third, the Lord gives the reason why Paul can proceed fearlessly speaking the truth and testifying to the Savior. God assures Paul "for I am with you." Paul was not alone. Neither are you or I when we witness. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for this very reason.
Fourth, the Lord assures Paul "no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." Despite the mounting opposition and the trial before a Roman Proconsul that Paul will soon face, the Lord promises that no one will lay a hand on Paul. It is sometimes tempting to think that when we witness and share the love of Jesus, that no one is listening or moved by the Holy Spirit. Paul is assured that God's Word has had its effect. It has done exactly what God intended to do with it. God will do the same through you or I when we confess His truth.
So…reminder to self:
Don't be afraid (365 days a year); Go on speaking; Do not be silent; Trust God is with me; Be confident that He has many who are His people and even when I don't recognize it, they are all around me.