Last time I wrote about the woeful lack of courage in our culture, often among silent Christians who "live and let live" on consequential issues (like Trans in women's sports). I highlighted Riley Gaines, who has been one of the exceptions, displaying great courage in our cultural takeover by Trans activists.
But then I thought, "It's easy to chide examples of cowardice. But Dan, you're likewise tempted toward self-preservation, ease, not-rocking-the-boat." Alas, the human condition inside all of us. Ever since our father Adam bit that apple, we've lacked courage. What can we do to change?
We were created to make a holy difference in the time and place in which we live. It's not an accident we were born in this period of history, in the geographic location we find ourselves.
What will foster courage within us? Two things. First, we need examples of courage that remind us God reigns in the affairs of men and nations. I did a quick survey of my Bible and discovered that most of its great stories are about weak men and women (like you and me) who decided to trust God above their fears and, throwing caution to the wind, stood upon God's truths and promises. Here are a few courageous men and women, summarized in three parts: the Person, the Threat they faced, and their Response.
(The Person): Daniel. (The Threat): "If you keep praying to your God, we'll arrest you and have you executed." (Daniel 6:1-24). (The Response): Daniel displays courage, keeps praying to God, and gets thrown into a Lion's den for execution. But God Rescues him.
Esther. "If you approach the King (on behalf of your people, the Jews), he'll have no choice but to have you killed, according to the laws of the Medes and Persians." (Esther 4:11-16). Esther displays courage and approaches the king anyway ("if I perish, I perish"). But God Rescues her.
Abraham and Isaac. "If you obey God and climb Mt. Moriah, you'll have to kill your own son – your only son, the son through whom God promised you descendants, as many as the stars of the sky." (Genesis 15:3-6; 22:1-18). Abraham displays courage by climbing Mt. Moriah anyway. And he not only brought wood and fire, but the knife to sacrifice Isaac. Spurgeon aptly said, "Unbelief would have left the knife at home." God rescues both Isaac and Abraham, providing a substitute ram caught in a thicket of bushes.
(I drew this Ram caught in Thicket during a sabbatical, years ago.)
David. "You're just a young boy. You can't battle a giant warrior like Goliath! He'll squish you." (1 Samuel 17:1-54). David displays courage, volunteers, grabs five stones and runs to the battle line to fight Goliath. God rescues David and Israel.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. "If you three young men don't bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue, you'll be executed in the furnace of fire." (Daniel 3:13-27). The three men display courage, refuse to worship a false god, are thrown into the fiery furnace ... and not even a hair on their heads is singed! God rescues the three young men from certain death and proclaims His greatness to the pagan king.
Gideon. "Now that God has reduced your army from 32,000 to just 300 men, He wants you to go into battle against tens of thousands of Midianites." (Judges 7:1-8; 16-22). Gideon displays courage, approaches the battle lines, and God causes the Midianites to turn on each other in battle, to their deaths. God rescues Gideon.
Ruth. "If you, a widowed woman, leave your home of Moab to follow your mother-in-law Naomi back to her home country, you'll be ostracized and unmarried the remainder of your life ...and will never have children." (Ruth 1:11-18). Ruth displays courage and, despite the certain destitution she'll face, she goes with Naomi. God rescues Ruth (and Naomi), feeding them and leading Boaz to marry Ruth ... producing Obed, ancestor to David ... ancestor to Jesus.
Hebrews 11. Countless men and women displayed Courage, a synonym for Faith. All were rescued, though some not in the short term (they died), but in the long term, the eternal term. (Hebrews 11:35-40). God always Rescues.
Second, a careful look at Jesus will demonstrate that, above all others, He was the most courageous man to ever walk the earth.
Hebrews 12:2 says,
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (courage)..."
Jesus is the Model of courage (voluntarily dying a death he didn't deserve to rescue a people undeserving). But he is more than a Model to follow. He is an Author – one who writes courage into the DNA of every spiritually-born believer in Him. And he is more than a Model or Author, He is also a Perfecter of courage. He stands with us as we stand for Him. When it feels like we're tied up, alone in a fiery furnace, He comes and stands beside us, loosening our bonds. When we are afraid, He is near, at the ready.
So, one more time – The Person, the Threat, the Response ... of Jesus:
- Jesus. "If you keep claiming to be God the Son, we'll arrest you and have you executed." Jesus displays ultimate courage, the innocent man laying down His life. Instead of being rescued from this death, He goes through it and shocks the world by rising from the dead! God Rescues again, and this Rescue is transferred by God from Jesus to every believer in Him.
- PS Jesus' name literally means: God Rescues. That should give us courage.
"Now Faith (Courage) is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it (Faith/Courage), the men of old gained approval (from God)..." Hebrews 11:1
Lord, make me a courageous man.