I am very brave with Christians. Well, even that's not absolutely true. I have much boldness with Christians that I can see are bold about Jesus. I feel out the Bible crowd, and if it seems to be safe to talk Jesus and not just theology, I go ahead.
But I am not brave with unbelievers. I am constantly betraying my Lover, like a wife who is slightly ashamed of her husband and it comes out in little jokes at his expense at a party. I have lots of good reasons for not gushing over Jesus in public: One needs to have a sense of the social situation and the proper timing. Right.
Barnabas was a better person than I, and even he sold out, at least the one time that Paul called him on it, when he acted one way with one group of believers and then talked another way with another group who thought differently. The New King James Bible says he and Peter "were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (Galatians 2:11-14).
"Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked" (Proverbs 25:26). A righteous man. This is a person who otherwise loves the Lord, a person "for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:15), a person who in his prayer closet pours out his ardor. How distressing it is to know that "a righteous man" can so compromise his testimony before people he's afraid of that he can be muddy water rather than the "rivers of living water" (John 7:38) he was meant to be.
Paul Simon rightly said that there are 50 ways to leave your lover. You cancel with a wink what you earlier said with your lips. Bearing the name of Christian, you smile at an ungodly comment, and your companions take note of the subtlety and conclude that your religion is not as serious as they feared. The waters of your testimony are "muddied" and "polluted."
Paul the Apostle prayed: "Grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness" (Acts 4:29). Twenty-eight years ago a Christian woman violated the social situation rather than the gospel, to bring me a gentle rebuke from the Lord. It was clear, not muddy. I have forgotten most of the intervening years of my life, but I still hear that word clearly.
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