It seems to be the nature of most men to show some reserve as they deal with people. This caution undoubtedly promotes some small successes in human relations in the world, since the sharp edges of human beings are thus blunted and the abrasions between men may not be quite so frequent.
On the other hand, when this natural reserve carries over totally into our gospel lives, it may be to the disadvantage of those with whom we labor.
We speak of the possibility that this fear of giving offense may result in the principles of truth not being proclaimed as loudly and as clearly as they should be. The situations where this could be the case are almost endless, ranging from the fear that rises in the heart of a missionary and prevents him from knocking on a door to the reticence of a home teacher that may keep him from even mentioning the gospel of Jesus Christ in a particular home.
Lest these words be misunderstood, common sense demands that all of us be sensitive to the feelings of people and be aware of varying circumstances. Brash, rude, obnoxious behavior in dealing with God’s children, however right the cause, is not consistent with the teachings of the Savior.
Returning to the original premise, the apostle Paul suggested the key for all of us when he wrote to the Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. …” (Rom. 1:16.)
Does it not also follow that if we are “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” then we should be fearless in proclaiming its principles?
Consider, though, the instances of fearfulness among members of the Church that could make more difficult the path to exaltation for some of our brothers and sisters.
What happens to the adult member of the Aaronic Priesthood who is not invited to join a project temple discussion group because someone is sure that he will say no or because of fear that he will be antagonized? One thing is certain, he does not come uninvited. There are just too many cases, however, of where such a person has accepted the invitation for anyone to allow fear of a “no” to prevent the invitation.
Consider the bold new elders quorum president who dares to ask and get help from some of the “unreachables.” His predecessor went out of the office still looking for the right time to approach Elder X.
It takes courage for a home teacher to inquire of an inactive family concerning family home evening or genealogical research, but doesn’t the possibility exist that the inquiry or challenge will be the prick to the conscience that turns a family back to the Church?
What sort of injustice is done to a less than active woman when a Relief Society president fails to ask for her help in assisting with the needs of a family in trouble? Do any of us have the right to allow our fear and reserve to make choices for other persons when it comes to Church service and activity?
The list of possible situations could be multiplied. None of this is intended to suggest, of course, that an individual, especially those within the Church, is not essentially responsible for his own spiritual condition, but the fact remains that all who have committed themselves to the gospel of Christ are under obligation to seek out those who are “lost.”
Certainly there is a continuing responsibility to avoid any deliberate offense, but maybe the time is too far gone to allow us the luxury of weighing every word and phrase or of waiting for the “golden” moment before we challenge our brothers and sisters with the teachings of Christ.
Love, sensitivity, and absolute fearlessness may well be the needed attributes in this day for all those who are “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”