A Thing Called Courage
– A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to pray for her to have courage in bringing up God in a sticky situation. Of course, I complied, but it led me to think about what it takes to have courage in life, especially in regards to sharing The Gospel. Fear is the opposite of courage and The Word tells us that fear is not from God. In fact, it tells us that God gives us the spirit of power, love and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). If that’s not courage, I don’t know what is. So, why is it hard for us to find the courage we need to tell people about God? Why is it hard for me to share The Gospel with people I claim to care about?
After a few days of soul-searching, I concluded that courage is fueled by love. After all, when a parent loves a child they make unimaginable sacrifices to better that child’s life. Things that would have scared them to death before are now done without a thought of self-preservation, if the child is at risk of injury. Heights are now not a problem, if the child is stuck in a tree. Snakes must be killed, if they are in a child’s play area. Talking into television cameras if your child is lost is now something they are at ease with because it could help bring their child home. Their courage is fueled by love.
Another example is our soldiers. Why would someone volunteer to go into a war zone? When asked, soldiers often say they volunteer for love of country, or love of their family. They have courage because they love what their country stands for and want to preserve it for others. Again, love fuels courage.
So, where does this leave me? If love fuels courage, but I am too scared to share Christ with others, does this mean I do not love? I John 4:16-17 says, “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
I know and believe in the love that God has for me, but what about the abiding part? Am I truly abiding in His love? If I have Christ’s love abiding in me, will I still have fear? I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Well, that answers that question. If I am truly abiding in Christ and He in me, there is no fear. There is ONLY love, which I am learning fuels courage.
Paul in Philemon verse nine said that for love’s sake he was appealing for Onesimus’ case. He was pleading his case because of the love that he knew Philemon had within him. How did he know that Philemon had love? He knew because the Holy Spirit was residing in him. Galatians 5:22 tells us that the first expression of the Spirit reigning in our lives is love. The only way that I can love people the way that God would have me to love them is by completely yielding to His Spirit. When He is in control, love flows freely through me. When love flows freely, courage is not an issue. Courage is fueled by love.
I John 4:9 tells us that God made the ultimate sacrifice of love by giving His Son to die for our sins on the cross. Verse ten goes on to say that this was done as a substitution for us. That’s what love looks like. That’s what courage looks like. I am to hold NOTHING back. After all, everything hard has already been finished. My only requirement is to let others know. My lack of love has caused me to see this task as a hard thing when in reality it is a very simple thing. When love is covering my actions, people see that. They don’t feel like they are on a checklist to meet my “Christian witnessing quota”. They see the sincerity and hear the love. Whether they receive the Good News or not is between them and God, but the Spirit’s love in me has got to shine forth. It has to be my fuel.
I John 4:17 says that when love is perfected in us we have confidence in the Day of Judgment. I have always thought that this refers to having no fear before God because I have received His love and I know I am saved. I do believe this is part of it, but now I also think that this refers to our witness to others. Revelation is very clear that the blood of people we were commissioned to tell The Gospel to will be required of us at Judgment. The Word tells us that their blood will be on our hands. Verse 17 of I John 4 assures us that we can have confidence, not fear at The Judgment. How? When our lives have been fueled by Christ’s love, we are about our Father’s business. What is our Father’s business? It is telling people about His Son, our Savior (Acts 1:8). We won’t be fearful at The Judgment because we will know that whatever the Spirit prompted us to do, we did. We had courage because we had His love.
So, my courage (or lack thereof) has become yet another checkpoint for me. If I have no courage, I have no love. If I have no love, I am not allowing The Holy Spirit to have full control. If I am not allowing The Holy Spirit to have full control, who am I allowing to control me? These are sobering thoughts, thoughts that in reality I would rather not deal with. But, the Word of God says clearly that if I do not love those around me, I am not who God has called me to be. Augustine of Hippo said, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
With these thoughts ringing in our ears, let us be reminded that God has made provision for what He has commanded. As a pastor once said, “there was air before there were lungs”. God has the love for us to fuel our courage. We just have to yield to it.