People say that their two greatest fears are death and speaking in public. In Luke 12:1-12 Jesus talked with his disciples about these two fears. Perhaps what he said will help you overcome those fears!
In Verses 4-7 he refers to the fear of death. Do not be afraid, but do fear God, he loves you. There is a logical flow of thought here.
He says specifically, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body. Don’t be afraid of wicked men.” In the wake of so many mass shootings and terror attacks, it is really easy to be afraid of wicked men. What is Jesus getting at?
He goes on to say that we should fear the one who can throw us into hell. Who can do that? God. So we should fear God.
Fear God? Like…be scared of him? Should we be afraid of God like we would be afraid of wicked men? It would be quite odd for Jesus to say that, wouldn’t it? So what is he talking about? Throughout the Bible, especially in the book of Proverbs, we are taught to fear God. The fear of God is about seeing God with awe, with respect! When we fear God, we aren’t scared of him like my kids who refused to go up to the really scary house this past Halloween. Instead we love God, we want to be with him, know him, and follow his ways.
So Jesus is saying that we might lose our life, but that is not as important as the loss of faith. In other words, we should be more concerned about our saving our soul than about saving our life.
He goes on to illustrate this concept of fearing God as the one who can deal with our soul by referring to one of the most common foods in Israel, sparrows. They were a dime a dozen, and because many of the people were poor peasants, sparrows were a staple of their diets. Jesus says that though they are cheap, sparrows are not forgotten by God. So this God we are to fear loves lowly sparrows.
Then he explains further that God knows us so well, he’s got all the hairs on our head numbered. This shows how thoroughly he cares for you, how well he knows you. And Jesus concludes, then, that we need not be afraid, because we are worth more to God than sparrows.
This passage resonates with me because I don’t like the thought of death. Frankly, even though I trust in the hope of eternal life, I don’t want to die. But Jesus reminds us that God loves us. He knows us thoroughly, he cares for us. And we are worth so much to him.
How amazing is that! God considers us to be of great worth. Perhaps you need to spend time reflecting on how much God loves you. How he thinks you are worth his time, his energy, his love!
So we do not need to fear to death. But maybe public speaking will always be terrifying?
In Verses 11-12 Jesus talks specifically about some help for those who are afraid of speaking in public. Specifically he refers to a time when the disciples might get arrested for being a follower of Jesus.
He says, “Don’t worry about how you will defend yourself because The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say.”
We may or may not have to be in a situation where we are arrested. But we all will get in situations where we are sharing our faith, and we can be assured that the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say. We have the Holy Spirit with us! He will teach us what to say.
One of the reasons why people don’t share their faith with neighbors and friends because they don’t know what to say. But Jesus says we have the Spirit. So we don’t need to be ashamed. We don’t need to be afraid!
This reminds me of the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. He was a Jew who had been exiled, and he heard that his beloved city of Jerusalem was in ruin. He felt burdened to go back home and rebuild the wall around the city. As a trusted cupbearer to the foreign king, he decided to ask the king’s permission. What I love is how often Nehemiah prays in his story. Sometimes the prayers are really short sentence prayers under his breath, or in his head, as he is about to do something. As he stands before the king, Nehemiah had a distressed look on his face, a display of emotion that was not acceptable when having an audience with the king. So we read that Nehemiah prays to God before he dives into his request of the king. I love that detail. Nehemiah was a man who knew that he needed God’s help before he spoke in public, in a very tense, nerve-wracking situation.
One time Michael Bay, famed movie director, needed help with a public speech, and he didn’t get it. Take a look at this video.
Jesus tells his disciples that they do need a teleprompter! If they don’t know what to say, they can depend on the Holy Spirit for help. That is an amazing thing to consider. God’s Spirit who lives with us will help us know what to say when we have the opportunity to speak up for him.
Don’t be afraid to speak up for the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words to say! Ask him to help you tell your story.
I found a great article where a professor of evangelism talks about his struggles with it!