What does it mean to be courageous? And perhaps more importantly, how courageous will we need to be?
You might be thinking courage is for the next person. Or maybe you are thinking, “I am courageous in this part of my life…isn’t that good enough?” Friends, courage is not simply about being brave in a moment but rather having the posture of courage integrated into your character, and the manner in which you interact with the world.
Courage by definition is to be brave, bold, and intrepid when facing difficulties and dangers. It doesn’t mean we are no longer afraid. Courage means that, in spite of our own fear, we move forward with STRENGTH that goes before you, behind you, and beside you in Christ.
A Call to Courage
Courage is not merely suggested but commanded in Scripture, but with the knowledge He is faithful to be the source of your courage.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Friends, in case you haven’t noticed; it takes courage to be a true follower of Jesus Christ! As the great Chief Justice Antonin Scalia so eloquently shared, “Have the courage to have your Christian wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated mind.”
A Decline of Courage
The Western world has rapidly lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately evidenced in our nation. The loss of our courage was documented by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1978 when he said, “Should one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
There is a clear lack of courage in the American church, in society, and in government today. ‘Playing it safe’ is becoming the norm to live by. We value physical comfort and convenience more than spiritual courage and obedience. But there is no doubt the God of the Universe would rather have us spiritually courageous than physically comfortable. Scripture is filled with courageous acts. We have to do more than casually admire courage; we have to passionately imitate those who go before us.
A Model for Courage
As is detailed when Jesus and the disciples were in Gethsemane – “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” Matthew 26:37-39
It is no more clearly explained than in those verses that courage is not the absence of anxiety, sorrow or distress. Courage calls us to press in (with HIS strength) to do the will of God, it is truly simple and yet very difficult for many.
In the Book of Acts, every single chapter has at least one seriously courageous moment. A few of my favorites are summarized in two passages:
”But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” Act 4:19-20
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Act 20:22-24
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis.
Beloved: when you are tested; in every act of obedience, courage is necessary for survival. We must obey God not man. We must speak God’s word even when it is uncomfortable. In order to not let the inevitable trials we face destroy us we must place our very lives in God’s hands. Letting go and trusting Jesus is exactly how we develop spiritual courage!