Don't Be Shy!
James Smith, 1859
There are certain sins that must appear shameful, to all who feel aright; nor can they be committed with any pleasure, until all feeling of modesty, and sense of right are conquered. And there are some places, which cannot be frequented by young people, without a feeling of shame, until they become to a certain degree hardened in sin. We have felt the truth of this ourselves, and have seen it in many others. Satan is well aware of it, and therefore he prepares temptations, lays snares, and by degrees takes captive young people. And when once he has caught them in his trap, his object is to make them laugh at religion and all proper feelings, and to harden them in sin.
A striking illustration of this truth is before me: Some years ago, if a person going up Bishopsgate Street, in London, had looked at the various inscriptions over the doors of the many houses that crowd that busy street — he would have seen written in large letters over the door of a tavern, "DON'T BE SHY!"
Here was an appeal to the timid modest youth, who felt
his cheeks blush, and his conscience within work to prevent him, when about
to enter such a nursery of Satan. "Don't be shy, young man, come in, take
your glass, smoke your pipe, crack your joke, sing your song, and be manly.
Never mind what your poor mother will feel, or the distress it will
occasion your father. Act for yourself, avow yourself to be
independent, and defy both God and man. Don't be shy, though invited to join
the company of the drunkard, the profane swearer, the infidel, and to sit in
the seat of the scornful. Don't be shy, young man — but boldly commence a
course of sin, which will . . .
waste your money,
blast your reputation,
ruin your health,
and damn your soul!
Don't be shy — but drink until you . . .
benumb your conscience,
empty your purse,
break your mother's heart, and
entail the curse of God upon you forever!
Don't be shy, though the Bible warns you, friends caution you, and the most horrid instances of the result of listening to such advice is before you. Don't be shy — but drink until you can dare all, defy all, and meet the drunkard's doom, with the insensibility of a pig, or the blasphemy of a devil!
Such is the literal meaning of the advice given. But how few stop carefully to consider it, how many take it, and are eternally ruined by it. Young friends, never do anything, or go anywhere, against which your conscience testifies; or from which true nobility would keep you. Go nowhere, do nothing, which you would not, if your mother was with you, or your father's eye upon you! Be shy, in reference to all questionable places, and practices. The ball-room, the dancing-room, the card-table, the tavern — avoid them all. As you would not like to die there, do not be found there. The music, the song, the liquor, the company are ensnaring; therefore take the advice of Solomon, as to all such places, "Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way!"
You may be attracted. You maybe tempted. Before you are aware — you may be ensnared; and once ensnared — you may never be able to extricate yourself again. Be shy of all company that will lead you into sin, or sinful pleasures. Be shy of all practices that will unfit you for prayer and praising God. Go nowhere if you cannot ask God to go with you. Do nothing upon the doing of which, you cannot ask God to bless you. Act now as you will wish you had acted when you come to die, or when you stand before the judgment-seat of Christ!
But the advice of the tavern owner is often needed in reference to better places, and better things. When young people are convinced of sin, and become concerned about their soul's salvation, Satan tempts them to be very shy, and to keep all their thoughts and feelings to themselves; for he knows that if he can persuade them to act thus, he can harass them with temptations, and fill them with the most distressing doubts and fears. Whereas, if they were to speak to a judicious Christian, or a minister of Christ — they would receive such instruction and advice, as would encourage them, and lead them directly to the Savior.
Seeking soul, don't be shy, go to the minister, or open your mind to your godly father or mother, or to some Christian friend — and you will soon find relief. Over the humble sanctuary, and over the room where the prayer-meeting is held — it is almost necessary sometimes to inscribe, "Don't be shy!" For natural shyness of disposition, the taunts and sneers of worldlings, and the working of Satan on the mind — often keep enquirers from such places; and yet these are the very places, to which such people ought to go!
In villages especially, it often requires a great effort to break through old customs and prejudices, and to go and meet with a people who have been despised, and perhaps sneered at aforetime. But, if these lines should meet the eye of one, who is seeking peace with God, and the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins; to such an one we say, "Don't be shy!" — go where the Lord's people go, and the gospel is to be heard, whether in church, or chapel, or cottage room; go wherever believers meet for prayer and praise. God is there. The Lord Jesus is there. The presence of the Holy Spirit is enjoyed there. And the greatest blessings are conferred there. Never mind if the people are despised — God's people often are. Never mind if the people are ridiculed and spoken against — this has always been the lot of Christ's true disciples, more or less. Go, and seek the Savior; go, and listen to the gospel; go, and worship God; and if a false shame makes you feel backward or afraid, let those words sound in your heart, as from God himself, "Don't be shy!"
In coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, for the pardon of sin, and the salvation of your soul, "don't be shy," for over his cross, the eye of faith may see written, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." In coming to God by prayer, or to confess your sins, seek for mercy, or to obtain relief, "don't be shy;" for over the mercy-seat is written, "Come boldly to a throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help you, in time of need."
In coming to the Bible, as to God's book, for instruction, consolation, or correction, "don't be shy;" for all Scripture was written by inspiration of God, and is intended for the benefit of all who believe in Jesus. Accept its invitations, appropriate its promises, believe its doctrines, observe its precepts — and be happy.
When an opportunity is given you to do good, whether to visit the sick, teach in the Sunday School, speak a word for Jesus, or put a sentence respecting the salvation of the soul, into a letter, "don't be shy;" but seize the opportunity, do the work, bear the testimony, and seek to win the soul. "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
But I must close my remarks, by saying in one word: Be shy, when tempted to do anything, or go anywhere, if your conscience does not entirely approve, or if God's Word does not clearly sanction. But "don't be shy," to do, or say anything, or go anywhere, if it is clear that you can do good to others, or get good for your own soul. Walk by these rules — and God will bless you!