Bold to Speak

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Psalm 119:42-46 “May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame” (Psalm 119:42-46).

When we consider that God has given us his grace and salvation, is it hard to understand why the psalmist says: “then I will answer the one who taunts me…” “Do not take our word of truth from my mouth…” “I will speak of your statutes before kings and not be put to shame…”? If God has done so much for me, doesn’t that give me courage to speak up for him?

A friend of mine visited members of another congregation some time ago. He attended church with them on Sunday but was not impressed with their pastor’s preaching. The pastor’s speaking skills were poor. The message seemed unorganized. My friend mentioned his criticisms to his hosts, and he was surprised by their passionate defense of their pastor.

These people pointed out that their pastor was a faithful shepherd of his flock. He visited his members regularly. He was not afraid to confront people with their sins, but he did so with a sincere desire to restore them, and he was quick to share the gospel, too. His people could trust him with their problems. When tragedy had struck this very family, the pastor spent long hours beside them in the hospital comforting them with God’s word. Since this family had received such love from the pastor, they were bold to speak up for him and defend him. If people are moved by such earthly service and love, how much more does our Savior’s grace make us bold to speak up for him!

Look at how closely Scripture connects faith and the mouth. Jesus says, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I believed, therefore I have spoken” (2 Cor. 4:13). Paul writes in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). God’s grace makes me bold to speak!

This does not mean everyone will be a gifted preacher, missionary, or evangelist. Those are gifts that our Lord gives to specific people. But what does it say about our faith if we will not speak about him at all? Can such a faith be healthy? He has only one way of spreading the gospel to others: through the mouths of his people. If we will not preach his gospel and share his grace, then God may take it away from us and give it to a people who will.

The answer for cramped hearts and closed mouths that will not speak, the solution for our cowardice and lack of love, is found in the same grace that the psalmist so desired for himself. There we find the forgiveness that removes our guilt for Christ’s sake and restores our relationship with God. This sin, too, has been paid for at the cross. Then God’s grace fills our hearts with faith and love. I don’t need more advice about how to be a better witness. I need my heart to be overcome by the grace that makes me bold.

In 1530 the fathers of the Lutheran Church used the words of verse 46 to introduce their faith to the Holy Roman Emperor in the Augsburg Confession: “I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame.” Whether we are speaking to kings or next door neighbors, may his grace make us so bold, too

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