As I combed my hair and brushed my teeth before I went to bed last night I was thinking about and wondering why I am so extremely quiet and meek when I’m face to face with people but yet when I write I am bold and clear. Is this wrong? I constantly feel like I need to improve my oral skills (which is probably true) but I wonder if it is wrong to be so different in how I communicate. What makes the difference?
I stepped out of the bathroom to read the chapter in the bible that lay open on my desk; I read that chapter and the few following. I am so often convinced that God knows us and wants to speak to us, last night I was reminded yet again because this is what the chapter says:
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!—I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
(2 Corinthians 10 ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
Who knew, I was thinking and feeling some of the same things confidant and forthright Paul was . . . and I remember Moses was a poor speaker as well. Men and women in the bible, who God used in amazing ways, were fallible, just as I am. There is no need to be perfect to let God use me but in my weaknesses and imperfections I can learn trust, obedience, dependence, and humility.
Okay, so the bible teaches us to speak both boldly and meekly. In Ephesians 6 Paul asked people to pray for him to speak boldly, as he ought to speak and In Matthew 5:5 it says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” So boldness is a good thing and so is meekness . . . when they’re both taken in the right sense of the word.
The instructions to be both bold as well as meek do not contradict each other. Several years ago I was confused about this for a long time until I understood that when the bible speaks of boldness it is referring to clarity, bravery, and courage and when it speaks of meekness it’s meant to be patience, humility, and gentleness. People sometimes use the word “bold” to mean unduly forward, reckless, and brazen or “meek” to mean timid, shy, and cowardly. I find it unfortunate our language is so messy that these misunderstandings can so easily be made. We can be sure of which meaning was meant in the bible though because in other places in scripture God teaches against these latter meanings such as “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” – 2nd Timothy 1:7, 8 and “A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.” – Proverbs 14:16. We have full reason to believe the Word of God is infallible—that God would not give us contradictory commandments because our God is an intelligent One of order, not of confusion.
So we are to speak boldly in meekness. I will have to pray like Paul had to then, to speak the mystery of the gospel boldly, as I ought to speak, when face to face with people.
This is a continuation from my previous post on a related train of thought.