The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being God's calling for us to be courageous.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “courage” as: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Does God call us to have courage? Josh 1:7, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.” Why does it take courage to follow the law? Matt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Apparently, some people will not be happy with the example we are setting when we follow the law, some will be so upset they will try to kill us. Even today, 11 Christians are killed every hour because of their faith in Christ. Quoted from an article in the Christian Post, dated May 19, 2015, entitled, “11 Christians Are Killed Every Hour, Says Irish Catholic Bishop Who Warns Persecution Has Reached 'Unprecedented' High.”
Should we then be afraid of those willing to kill us for our beliefs? Deut 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” The answer is no. Fear is one of the weapons the devil is using to silence God’s witnesses. God has promised us eternity, so the loss of a few years in this life should never stop us from fulfilling His calling of spreading His Word, Matt 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” God has given us a duty to perform, and He left us examples to follow. We need only look at the Apostles; all of them died as martyrs, except John, who died of old age after surviving being boiled in oil in Rome. Did they demonstrate courage while teaching the world about God's love? This is the very reason Christianity has grown from a few hundred people, who personally witnessed His crucifixion and resurrection, into a religion of billions of followers. Those Apostles had courage because they came to believe the homeless man they followed is the Son of God, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. None of us are perfect. However, God calls us to do our part, Mk 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
1 Pet 3:14-16, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” God calls us to spread His Word in meekness and without fear of death. This means we have to study His Word, so that we may have an answer for those who seek one, 1 Pet 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” Does our answer not fully explain that our hope is the eternal life God has promised us? Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Is this not a hope worth facing death without fear?
Even though some might want to harm us, God never calls us to harm non-believers, He calls us to love them, so they might see His love and come to reason with Him, Matt 5:43-44, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” When we love God and believe in His promise of eternal life, we should show our love for everyone because it demonstrates our faith in God. Is faith not at the heart of the courage we display when we face adversity? Did God not give us Noah as an example of the power of true faith? Heb 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Noah stayed faithful for more than 100 years, and God rewarded him. Noah did not fear his doubting neighbors, and he did not let them deter him during his long struggle to complete the task God had given him.
Ps 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God knows we walk in the valley of death when we fulfill His calling of spreading His Word. So, He tells us we need not fear, for He will be with us always, Is 41:13, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” God is always by our side, even when we are suffering for our belief in Him.
Dan 3:16-18, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Is God saying our courage serves as a light to others, especially when facing the death? He has given us His love, and it will provide all we need when we face danger, 2 Tim 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Those who fear death in this life will never have the courage to fulfill God’s calling for them and will not fully experience His peace in this life. Real courage frees us from the bondage of fear and brings us His peace, Matt 10:28, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." This reminds me of an insightful Ernest Hemingway quote, “A coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one.” God wants us to be brave. He wants us to stand in the face of adversity, for only then will others profit from our courage. This is how we shine His light, so others can find the path leading to God's eternity. We need only look at the great moments in history when a martyr willingly sacrificed their life, or part of it, to give birth to a movement, or to propel one to greater heights; like Jesus, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria, Peter Waldo, Martin Luther, Lucy Yi Zhenmei, Esther John, etc.
Rom 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” It is the hope we have in our Father, which allows us to complete the work He has assigned us, Heb 12:1-2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” God has chosen to place us within a unique cloud of witnesses to benefit from our courage. Many of us have been called, for many are needed to light the entire world. When we honestly evaluate this truth, we can acknowledge the many, for God has placed us in every part of this world, even prisons. He has done this so all will have the opportunity to see His light in action and respond, or not. He wants to give everyone a chance to accept His offer of salvation.
1 Jn 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” It is His love that makes us perfect. It is His love that leads us through sanctification to the person He calls us to become, 2 Thes 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” He calls all of us to salvation through sanctification.
Ultimately, He wants to live with those who want to live with Him. If we do not wish to follow His Will in this life, He will not subject us to an eternity of it. He will not force us, we must use the free will He has given us to decide. It is His love and the use of free will, which separates Christianity from all other religions. Only the God of the Bible has walked with His people, personally taught His people and died for His people. No other religion can make this claim.
God calls us to love everyone, spread His Truth, and fear no one. If only we would use the courage, He so freely offers us!
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