Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
– Phil 1.12-14
My small group was chewing on this passage last night and we asked the simple question, “If one of us got locked up because of the Gospel, would it make you more bold to share?” Heavy stuff. But as I was meditating on the passage again this morning, this phrase stood out to me, “trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment”.
The actual fact of Paul being imprisoned for preaching the Gospel was grounds for the believers to trust in God. Would you trust in God more seeing someone you know and love be locked up for talking about Jesus?
For me, a big part of the fear is the unknown. If I saw a friend or my pastor talk about Jesus, get locked up for it, and then for the news of what had happened spread like wildfire, I think his testimony of faithfulness in that particular struggle would give me more boldness. I would see God’s hand and faithfulness – even through imprisonment, and even death – and be more likely to be more bold.
But, knowing myself, I would probably still speak with a level of fear.
This principle is understood in most every facet of life and it is why we value and utilize internships, apprenticeships and mentorships. If you struggle with boldness in evangelism, go out with someone who is experienced and skilled in it. Watching someone else talk to a complete stranger about Jesus and inviting him to church can help you see how natural and easy it can be!
If you struggle with a daily devotion or prayer time, watch someone or ask for an outline of how someone who is regular in these disciplines does it, and get them to hold you accountable.
Seeing someone else uphold the disciplines that we desire to build is one of the best stimuli and learning methods. Even perseverance through imprisonment!