Over many years when I am facing some opposition to doing something that needs or should be done, and I know it will bring on the wrath of Hades from certain quarters, I spend a great deal of time rummaging around the scriptures and take heart from direct passages on courage and then draw even more encouragement from biblical exhortations to be courageous. History provides numerous accounts of making courageous decisions against the odds as well.
Aristotle said this about courage:
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”
As I thought on this for a few days it dawned on me that most lapses of honor involve a failure to be courageous. The fear of loss, be it prestige, money and even loss of life accompanies a loss of honor. Said honor would be salvaged by having the courage to stand for the right, no matter the consequences. Honor and courage are as entwined as love and marriage and the horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other.
As I write this piece, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, pregnant wife of an American citizen is under a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her faith in Jesus Christ. As she faces 100 lashes and the hangman’s noose, she is doing this with courageous faith, far removed from the Christianity that lets a few drops of rain keep them from gathering with the saints. Please read about it here:
Please remember Meriam in your prayers and understand there are forces in America that would pass the same sentence without batting an eye. Jesus Christ is our hope and may I emphasize our only hope.
A restoration of learning to accept courage from the sources given to us by the Lord can cause a revival of honor.
Often failures of courage involve the fear of honestly facing our own faults, our own weakness. To honestly admit that we are failing in some area, may save a lot of grief down the line, a run in with reality that we temporarily avoid by placing blame on someone, or some circumstance as the lame excuse for our own ineptness, laziness or lack of personal discipline. I have observed and experienced that it takes a little courage and honor to do the best you can while involved a work that you really don’t like. This failure to perform to the best of your ability is endemic in the Lord’s work. You often see a lack of courage and character with the above at the root.
King David spoke to his son and heir to the throne, Solomon at the construction of what became known as Solomon’s Temple with these grand words of encouragement in
1 Chronicles 28:20, “And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.”
The word “dismayed” means to become disabled through fear. Many, far too many, are unable to perform due to a lack of courage to admit their lack of character. You can build character by admitting that in the testing of life you lack the courage to admit a need in that particular area, and therefore continue to fake it till you make it, failing to perceive you will never really make it, but settle for a weak appearance of having done so. I have noticed over the years that men and woman consumed with getting a “title” as the honorable so and so, are very susceptible to waving paper at others rather than true accomplishments.
Courage in the Christian life demands that we trust Christ to carry out His work, His plan in our life, whether that plan contains “flowery beds of ease” or as the case often is, “a cross” as in the case of Jesus Christ Himself!
David’s words to Solomon are as needed as they were the day David communicated them to his heir.
Concerning the kind of courageous faith being demonstrated by Meriam Yharia Ibrahim consider this comment from a great modern general:
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” General Norman Schwarzkopf.
I think General Schwarzkopf’s statement helps us to understand the heart of God as He wrote Hebrews Eleven. Character, Courage, and Honor must be our benchmark if we Christians are to overcome the evil of our day.
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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