Courage Makes The Difference

     Nobody respects a coward. We admire people who are courageous. In every movie that has a hero we admire, it is because of their courage. The bad guys nearly always turn out to be cowards.

     Some of the guys among us can remember when they were still a kid in school and someone would dare them to do something dangerous. Some of you probably did some of the stupidest, most dangerous life threatening things you’ve ever done. Why? So that you wouldn’t be labeled with that dreaded word chicken! You wanted to come off in the eyes of your peers as courageous…not as a coward.

     Usually, when we think of courage we think of heroic, death defying acts. We think of firemen going into burning buildings to rescue little children…policemen in a shootout with hardened criminals…soldiers falling on a grenade to save their buddies…seamen going out into a stormy sea to rescue people from a sinking boat.

     The fact is that every one of us faces choices every day in which we come out either courageous or a coward. It takes a great deal of courage to face the daily challenges of life without becoming a wimp.

The Christian Life Requires Special Courage

     As Christians who desire to make a difference in the world we are going to face unique challenges that are going to require a great deal of courage. Listen to these words of Jesus in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation (tough challenges), but be of good cheer , I have overcome the world.”

     Perhaps you have heard someone say, “Religion is for weak people” or “Belief in God is a crutch for people who aren’t strong enough to stand on their own.” Such statements are made out of total ignorance of what the true Christian life is all about.

     It takes enormous courage to be a Christian when most unregenerate people automatically despise you when you openly reveal that you are a person of faith in Jesus Christ. Hugh Huett gave a good illustration of this. He is professor of law at Chatman University. He is also co-host of the Emmy award winning TV show, Life and Times. In addition, he is the writer of the book, “Searching For God In America and creator of the TV mini series that came from it. Following are his words:

     “The elite media in America hates Christians with a passion in terms that they are threatened by those who have an absolute moral standard and they punish them…There was a Washington Post story…that called evangelicals ill educated and easily led. It was retracted the next day, but it had gone past three levels of editorial scrutiny when the PhD's and JD’s and all the degrees of the world rained down their scorn on them. If you followed the coverage of the Promise Keepers, especially in Time magazine…you’ll know that it was treated as though the Huns had invaded the nation’s capitol and were looting the city. I want to assure you, on the basis of having lived there six years, there was never a safer time to live in Washington, D.C. than during that week that the Promise Keepers were there.”

     It is well to note that the Promise Keepers are making a difference by going forward with their call to godliness and faithfulness in the face of scorn by the established media.

To Make A Difference In The World Requires Courage

     Christians will not change the world by imitating it. To inspire others to know God and to commit to pleasing God and being a positive blessing to their fellow man we are going to have to be different. And to be honest we have to face the fact that there are people in the world who automatically have unfriendly feelings about a Christian whose life is so dynamic that it is changing others.

Areas Where Special Courage Is Needed

We Need Courage To Stand Up For Christ

     Do you consider yourself a sincere believer in Jesus Christ; believing that Jesus was and is the eternal Son of God Who entered the human family by the way of virgin birth; believing that although He was tempted in every way like we are yet He never sinned; believing that the sins of every human being was laid on Jesus and He faced the judgment of God’s perfect law for our sakes? Do you believe that He experienced physical and spiritual death as our substitute…that ”Christ died for our sins.”; that Jesus rose again and ascended back to the heavenly Father’s right hand? Have you reached out to Christ by faith and asked Jesus to forgive your sins and save your soul? Did you believe Him to do it?

     Now, let me ask you these questions: Do all your family members know you believe all these things about Christ? Do the people where you work know? Do the people you meet regularly in the normal course of your life know you believe this, ..the neighbors…the people where you shop or at restaurants or activities you attend? For those of you who can answer yes, you also know it took some courage to let everyone know that you are a person of faith in Jesus Christ. Some of you know deep down in your heart that you do not have the courage to stand up for the faith you have in Jesus Christ. If you ever are going to stand up for Christ, you are going to have to find courage.

We Need Courage To Resist Temptations

     None of us are exempt from temptation. When we get saved we get the life of God in our spiritual nature, but we don't lose our fleshly nature. Our enlivened spiritual nature delights in God and the things that please Him and bring blessing to others. Our fleshly nature still delights in pleasing self with the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The Devil and his fallen angels (called "demons" in scripture) have a limitless arsenal of fiery darts to set various aspects of these three areas on fire in our flesh. Powerful forces pressure us to live according to the desires of our fleshly nature and the values of a worldly system living independently of God. Do we even need to say these temptations are rampant; abuse of alcohol and drugs, pornography, lying, gossip, cheating, immorality, etc abound. Christians are pressured to be part of this in various forms or be considered antisocial. Satan and his imps knows where each of us is the most vulnerable. The more mature we become as Christians, the more subtle they know how to make these temptations The foundation of being able to resist temptation is the need for courage. Where do we get it?

We Need Courage To Face The Challenges of Life

      A mother is told she has cancer that is potentially fatal.
     A highly respected husband and wife get a call from the police that their child has just been busted in a drug raid. They face the embarrassing news, the expenses of court and perhaps seeing their child go to jail.
     A mid-life couple with good incomes, an expensive home filled with fine furniture,.---and heavy debt, learn that the primary breadwinner will be laid off because the company is downsizing.

     These and thousands of other challenges are hitting people everyday. Americans are seeking the solution in train loads of tranquilizers; millions of dollars spent on psychotherapy. some even suicide. All this is evidence that courage to face these challenges is elusive.

We Need Courage To Serve The Lord With Our Gifts and Abilities

     I believe God has gifted me as a pastor/teacher and leader. Yet, one of the most frightening experiences I ever had was the first time I stood up to teach a 4th grade boys' Sunday School class. I had studied the lesson and prepared. However, I was so nervous that I spoke so fast that in approximately five minutes I had said everything I knew to say and there was still about 40 minutes to go. I experienced that same fear when I began house-to-house visitation. I have had scores tell me they felt the same fears when they began serving the Lord. Many have such fear that they don't even try in the first place.

     The conclusion of Hebrews 12 is, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."   (verse 28). If we are going to serve God acceptably in a world that has declared its independence from God we are going to have to find the courage to do it.

We Need Courage To Face Death And Eternity

     At death the soul and spirit leave the body and go forth to meet our Maker…prepared or unprepared. For the body it is the end of the earthly life. The souls of those not prepared by salvation through Christ will be kept in the confinement of Hades with the souls of all others who died unprepared. The body will have a resurrection to be rejoined with the soul and spirit and stand trial at the Great White Throne Judgment. Then will be the sentencing to what God calls in human language "the lake of fire." It is wise to have fear of such an eternal fate.

     Only God can give the courage to face death and eternity with perfect peace.

How Do We Get The Courage We Need?

By entering into a relationship with God.

     Accept what God has said about His Son, Jesus, receiving the punishment for our sin in our place; being buried; rising again and ascending back to heaven. Ask Jesus to forgive our sins and save us and believe Him to do it. At that instant we receive a spiritual birth into God's family and a vast array of God's works of grace (good favors) begin taking place. Fear of death and eternity is gone. There is joyful anticipation of entering into unhindered fellowship with our heavenly Father and our Savior.

We Openly Confess Our Faith In Jesus Christ.

     Jesus said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will confess before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32. Our New Testament states the two basic ways we confess Jesus is: 1) verbally stating that we are a believer in, and a follower of Christ, and 2) following Jesus in believers' baptism by immersion. Confession of Christ has the effect of burning the bridges to our old life behind us. It clarifies in our mind that we now accept both the joys and the challenges of whatever our Christian journey holds.

By Strengthening Our Christian Beliefs And Values.

     An amazing amount of courage comes from settling in your heart and mind that your beliefs and values are right. We must humbly ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding as we study and meditate on God's word. There is also great value in learning from others what God has shown them from their studies, meditation and experience. We are strengthened when the rightness of our beliefs are reconfirmed in the experiences of everyday life.

By Purifying Our Motivation

     Ulterior motives that are self-serving in our relationships with others greatly weaken our courage. And should. When our motives are 100% good and wholesome for those with whom we have relationships. it removes all fear from our encounters.

By Constant Dependence On God To Empower All We Do

     Without God's power working in us and through us we cannot accomplish all that God wants us to do. We should increasingly feel and express our dependence on our Lord, ask Him to empower us and accomplish His purposes in us and through us in all we do and in all we face… and believe Him to do it. We will find ourselves living with the supernatural courage that only God can give

     May each of us learn to live with the courage God wants every one of His children to have..

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted