“But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict“
in our God
We cannot expose ourselves to Paul’s life and ministry and overlook his great courage in the face of difficulty. Did he generate courage through operation bootstraps? Not at all. He got his courage from God. Paul’s power was no natural boldness. He was like most of us – a great coward.
“I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2: 3-5).
“For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7: 5).
The phrase “in our God” qualifies “we were bold.” Boldness did not come from the gospel team; it came from God. The word “in” signifies that their God gave them the sphere of courage to press forward with the gospel. Understanding something of His sovereignty and sustaining grace gives us the environment needed for aggressive evangelism.
They knew He providentially moves on the hearts of people. They did not move recklessly into Thessalonica. They operated under the umbrella of the five principles of 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
They also used wisdom in their evangelism thrusts. They met people on their approachable side. It is one thing to get opposition for communicating the gospel; it is another thing to create opposition of our own making.
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:5-6).
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
“Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33).
Paul obtained courage from his relationship with God. He was not unaffected by fear. In his natural person, he would not be as bold as he would if he moved in the confidence of God providentially working in his life.
Courage comes from God, not from self.
People who trust the providence of God are much bolder in sharing their faith. The more we love and trust God in His sovereign care, the more boldness we have in our faith.