Our world is filled with fear-mongering stories based on little more than rumor and gossip. Pair that with the rampant yearning we have to be liked and accepted by all and it is very easy to shrink back from God’s call on us as his people. In the culture of fear we live in paired with our desire for acceptance, one biblical virtue has fallen by the wayside. Once practiced by Christians with meekness, love, and grace-fueled desire, this virtue is now looked on with deep suspicion and is often labeled as arrogance and haugtiness.
The virtue I am talking about is courage.
A refrain significantly repeated in scripture by God to his people is, “Fear not.” Some have argued it is stated 365 times – once for each day of the year. This isn’t true, but is a nice sentiment none-the-less. If, in the Bible, God tells his people not to fear upwards of a hundred times, he must be interested in us not being controlled by fear, but instead trusting in him and living out of that trust.
To live out of our trust in God requires courage. I don’t believe the opposite of fear is courage, but I do believe courage is a non-negotiable virtue if we desire to live as God’s free people in a fear-filled, fallen world.
The difficulty now is that courage has been reduced to being brave enough to hit “like” on an article that advocates for a historical Christian belief, asking someone to stop gossiping, or risk using up all of your health packs while playing a video game. I’m not saying not to do those things, but it should be clear that where we think we are being courageous, our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world would say we missed the point.
Biblical courage involves living out, speaking out, and stepping out into a place where you may be “fed to the lions”, figuratively for us, but literally for our ancestors. You will not be loved by all – there is no way to hold biblical convictions and be well-loved by the people around us. The world is filled with a darkened understanding (Eph 4:18) on everything from business methods, to relationships, basic anthropology, and everything in-between. When the light of God, through his people, is presented to it, the darkness withers because it hates that light exposes it as evil (John 3:20).
We do no good to anyone when we are too afraid to speak and act about the darkness in this world. Anything, absolutely anything that does not result in true flourishing as God would define it in his word, is not something we can sit idly by and just accept because we are too afraid to step out and speak up.
Last month, the country of Iceland boasted they have reached a point where every child who is prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome is aborted. May God have mercy on us if we sit by as this is celebrated. Woe to those who call evil, good and good, evil. (Isaiah 5:20)
It takes courage to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves – to say something is wrong – because it puts a target on your back to be bullied, attacked, and called names. But honestly, who do you serve, God or man?
None of what I am saying is a license to act in an harmful or callous way. We must pray for those who stand for what is unbiblical. We must endure the backlash and potential suffering as a good solider (2 Tim 2:3). The fear of being “unloving” by not speaking up against systematic injustice, evil, and sin is not what we are called to. Fear God and you will be profoundly loving because you understand that all people will stand before him to give an account, including those who propagate and celebrate depravity.
Courage will look different for each of us. I plead with you to find yourself on your knees before the Lord to ask the simple question, “Where do I need to find courage?”
When God opens the door to exercise this courage, have faith. He will give you the words to speak when: your get to share your faith, invite your friend or family to church, or when you stand up boldly and with love against attacks on the gospel and its truth.
It is simple. As the darkness around us gets darker, the light of Christ that dwells in us through the Holy Spirit shines comparatively brighter. We are warned not to shield the light (Matt 5:15) or to try and hide it (Luke 12:9). If you have failed to be corageous, the remedy is simple: come to Christ for forgiveness and then go, filled with the Spirit, in confidence and courage that God is for you (Rom 8:31) and bring the good news to all who must hear it. They might hate you for it, but stand firm in love, prayer, and grace. Repay no one evil for evil, but evil for good (Rom 12:17).
Might courageous action be your default and unwavering trust in the sovereign God your prayer.