Where Does Boldness Come From?

Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you.
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”
— Jeremiah 1:5 The Message

Jeremiah had a tough gig! God assigned him to deliver a hard word of judgment to a hard-hearted people, governed by some heartless kings:

Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.
— Jeremiah 1:1:9-10 ESV

“Gee, thanks God!” Let’s see, you want me to deliver a message of disaster and judgment — with a hint of hope — but a hope that won’t arrive until after a nasty exile and seventy years of tough times.”

Let’s just say Jeremiah wasn’t chomping at the bit to get after it. Like Moses and Gideon (probably like you and me), he feels grossly under qualified for the task:

Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!

God is not having it. “Get out there and do your job, Jeremiah!”

Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

God is stern, but not unsympathetic to Jeremiah’s concerns. He knows what Jeremiah is facing, so God emboldens him:

Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.
God’s Decree.

Where does the boldness come from?

As I read and re-read Jeremiah I am asking myself, “Where does the boldness come from for such a task . . . for any task for that matter matter?” Reviewing this chapter I see three sources of boldness — and none of them come from Jeremiah.

  1. God’s call on Jeremiah’s life: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” 1:5

  2. God’s promise to Jeremiah: “I have put my words in your mouth . . . I am watching over my word to perform it.” 1:9, 12

  3. God’s presence in Jeremiah’s life: “Do no be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you declares the Lord,” 1:8; “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” 1:19

This is good news for you and me

Like Jeremiah, I am known and called by God. Paul reminds me in his letter to the Ephesians that God knew me before birth, set his sights on saving me, and has given me a job to do.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Like Jeremiah, God has promised that every word he has given me will come true.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5 ESV

Like Jeremiah, God’s presence is my reality.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 ESV

If you are feeling a little intimidated by your assignment today, I’ve got good news for you. The impetus for your confidence, the basis for your boldness does not rest on your ability or your circumstances — it comes from the reality that God loves you, formed you, calls you, fulfills every promise to you, and walks with you every step of the way — whether you feel that presence or not.

Look at Jeremiah’s life. God’s call and presence does not mean tough times won’t come. Of course they will! That’s part of every gig. The good news is that God makes us bold for every tough assignment.

That’s true for Jeremiah. That’s true for you.

Walk boldly.