Courage is a word that inspires us. When we watch movies, or read books where the central character defies the odds and emerges victorious it motivates us. We sit in audible gratitude, and sometimes in immutable silence when we see great acts of courage. It is a thing that stirs the soul. When you hear the word courage, what image is conjured in your mind? Is it the image of a person taking a firm stand for what they believe in despite the odds being against them? Is it the image of a blood soaked warrior striving valiantly while fighting for what is right and good in this evil world?
The Merriam-Webster definition of courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” It is the nature of courage to only exist within difficult circumstances. With this idea in mind, let’s think about our answers to the next two questions. Where does this indomitable spirit hide within us when things are wonderful, fuzzy, and nice? Where does it exist within the depths of humanity when not called into action by a perilous environment?
There is no half-brave, and no partial-valor.
Courage exists in letting go of the fear of death, because you realize your life is worth less than what you are fighting for. It is the intentional subjugation of your earthly existence to a cause, and your level of courage is attributable to your perception of the cause. Simply stated, the greater the cause, the greater the courage will be. In my mind, its that simple. This understanding has two separate and distinct implications. The cause must be significant enough to warrant such a wager, and the person must submit to this cause with every fiber of their being. There is no half-brave, and no partial-valor.
As we address this first implication, I believe that courage for Christians is found in Christ. I think of when Jesus asked for the cup of His crucifixion to pass from Him, but consented to the will of His Father. I think of His knowledge that brewed within his core when He stood before Pilate knowing what was going to happen. Think about that for a minute. Exactly what was His cause? What was He willing to accept this for? Who was He willing to accept this for? The Bible teaches that His cause was nothing less than you and I. It was the only way to fulfill the implications of The Law that so freely, and rightly, issued harsh judgment from our God against sinful people. It was His love for both the righteousness of God, and His love for us. He couldn’t simply just give grace without judgment, because He would deny the goodness of God’s Law; however, He refused to allow only judgment to flow from our Creator on people who find it difficult to live without illegitimately hurting others.
The more you understand the first implication, the easier the second flows. In order for a Christian man or woman to reveal Godly courage in the midst of horrible circumstances they must have completely submitted to their own life being second. This is what the Apostle Paul was trying to get across to his readers in Philippians 1:21 when he said: “for to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
. . . courage does not appear out of thin air. It does not come to the surface of something that is empty.
As I ponder this topic, I think of Proverbs 28:1. We read, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Ladies and gentlemen, courage does not appear out of thin air. It does not come to the surface of something that is empty. If you truly choose to prepare yourself for acts of gallantry, you must first locate your cause, and I can think of no greater cause than the cause of Christ, and the goodness to humanity that He teaches and represents. The one who accepted what was right and wrong on His own flesh, and bore our infirmities upon His physical body. His cause is one that clings to the righteousness of God Almighty, yet equally clings to the love He has for humanity. When we understand this, we are invincible, because we stand with the God of this universe who has already won the battle. We are to be as bold as a lion, because we stand with the Lion of Judah, Jesus the Christ.
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Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”