This issue of The Lookout focuses on Philippians, one of Paul’s prison epistles. The underlying theme of the study segments in this issue is speaking: to advance the gospel, to hold out the Word of life, to proclaim Christ’s values, and through our generous giving.
So it seemed appropriate to make speaking the focus this editorial, specifically speaking up when it comes to sharing our faith.
Many people throughout biblical history felt compelled to speak up. Here are some examples.
Abraham spoke up for the righteous citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah when God revealed his plan to destroy the wicked cities. “Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?’” (Genesis 18:27, 28).
Isaac spoke up as he and his father walked alone to the place of sacrifice where God instructed Moses to offer up his son. “Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham . . . . ‘The fire and the wood are here . . . but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Genesis 22:7, 8).
Joshua, Moses’ aide, spoke up when two Israelite elders were prophesying in the camp while the other elders were prophesying around the tabernacle. “Joshua . . . spoke up and said, ‘Moses, my lord, stop them!” (Numbers 11:28).
Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, spoke up when her relatives suggested she and Zechariah name their newborn son after his father. “But his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John’” (Luke 1:60).
Andrew spoke up when Jesus tested his disciples before he miraculously fed the 5,000. “Andrew . . . spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’” (John 6:8, 9).
I’m not sure speaking up was easy for any of these folks. When Abraham spoke up before the Lord, he was careful to recognize his own unworthiness. As Isaac and Abraham walked into the mountainous region of Moriah, Isaac may have spoken up in fear. He and his father were the only two living creatures approaching the place of sacrifice—and his father had the knife! Joshua may have spoken up fearing that Moses’ authority was being challenged. Elizabeth spoke up because her husband was unable to speak. Andrew spoke up, but his words were marked by uncertainty.
Whether they spoke from fear, uncertainty, or other motives, the fact remains that each one spoke up. Even when it may have been difficult to do so.
In one way, it’s a matter of perspective. When we focus on ourselves, we may have reason to feel self-conscious when we speak up. But when our focus is on God and others, we can speak up with freedom, knowing our aim is to honor the Lord, not ourselves. We hope this issue of The Lookout helps you discern when to speak up and when to stand down. We hope it challenges you to find the courage to share your faith. And we hope it encourages you to step out of your comfort zone when circumstances require it and speak a word on behalf of those who cannot. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8, 9).
When the situation warrants, let’s speak up.