“And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with compete boldness. …” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. Acts 4:29, 31 HCSB
His legs were shriveled. They’d been that way since birth, and they condemned him to a life of begging. Well into middle age, he sat at the temple gate, playing on passer-by’s sympathies, getting enough coins each day to eat and have a place to sleep. A demeaning, boring life.
And then one day, he held his hand out to Peter and John. But he kept his eyes on the dust.
“Look at us,” Peter said. The beggar did. “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, Peter grabbed that outstretched hand and pulled the man to his feet – his perfect, strong, usable feet.
The beggar stepped forward, then tried running, then leaped and finally returned to Peter and John, hopping up and down and praising God. He hung on to them, and all three went into the temple. “Look what just happened to me? Praise God! Oh, praise God! Would you look at me? I can walk!” The guy would not shut up.
Crowds rushed the trio, and Peter seized the opportunity to tell all of them the story of Jesus. The melee attracted and appalled the Jewish religious leaders. Why was the 45-year-old lame beggar walking, and furthermore, acting like a 6-year-old who has had too much sugar? But more importantly, what was all this preaching about killing the Messiah? How dare these two say Jesus was the Messiah. How dare they say he rose from the dead.
So they arrested Peter and John. Locked them up overnight. The next day, they assembled a solemn lot of priests and elders – long beards wagging, dignified robes swishing. They called Peter and John in.
“By what power or in what name have you done this?”
Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he told them. In Jesus’ power. In Jesus’ name. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”
The religious leaders were speechless. They conferred. They debated. And finally they just resorted to threatening. “Don’t you dare speak Jesus’ name again,” they told Peter and John. Or else. We’ll get you. We’ll get other people to get you. You’ll be miserable. You’ll lose your stuff. Your social standing. Maybe your lives.
Then, they let them go. Peter and John ran right to their “fellowship,” – their home group – to tell the whole story. All of those Christians knew those threats will real. They knew that the religious leaders had the power to make life terrible for them and for their children.
But here’s the thing that gets me. They didn’t pray to be protected. They didn’t pray for safety. They didn’t pray against the Jewish leaders. Instead, they prayed for boldness. They prayed that God would give them the courage to speak Jesus’ name fearlessly.
And that’s when it happened. That’s when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Filled with Him, they preached. They did the dangerous, the uncomfortable, the socially unacceptable. They shared the gospel.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just fill me to make me a nice person. He doesn’t give me gifts just to make me feel useful and good. He fills me to glorify God, and that means opening my mouth and boldly speaking about Him when it is awkward. It means telling a friend who is lost that … well … she’s lost, and Jesus is the roadmap home. It means seeking out opportunities to do talk about Jesus instead of steering my conversations clear of Him.
If I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I will be kind, but bold. And I will be far more focused on his glory than on my own comfort.