Thursday, March 14, 2013
The English dictionary defines courage as the quality of being brave: the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. I think this is a good picture of courage. My attention is particularly drawn to the expression without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. I believe courage is not the absence of the feelings of fear but the ignoring of the feelings of fear to do what has to be done and to be undeterred by opposing circumstances. Joyce Meyer puts it this way: “do it afraid.” Courage has to do with a lot of risk-taking. Without risk, there would be no need for courage. Whatever you need courage to accomplish is spelt R.I.S.K. Is faith a risk? No. Faith is the lifestyle of the righteous ones – the New Creation in Christ (Rom.1:18-17). The more we know God intimately, the more we grow in our trust for Him, the more we can take any risk for Him knowing fully well and being persuaded that He’s with us. Praise God! Let’s look at courage from a spiritual perspective. Courage is the act of taking a bold action inspired by an influence higher than the individual involved. Different spirits inspire people to take courageous actions or risks. But my focus is on the influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer in helping us take giant strides in the fulfilment of the various purposes of God for our lives. Real courage is born of the Spirit in our spirit – that daring spirit that wouldn’t turn back in spite of opposing factors. This happens when we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit in our inner man (Eph. 3:16). One of the first things the Holy Spirit helps the believer do in this regards is enabling Him build unshakable trust in the Lord. Believe me, you can’t walk with God without trust. It takes courage to step out and do what the Lord has called you to do even when people don’t believe or agree with you. It takes courage to stand alone. It takes courage to stay out of the crowd. One thing that inspires me about risk-taking is how God is so honoured by the risks we are willing to take for His sake. And He always rewards it. In Mark 8:35, the Lord Jesus made a striking statement: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” In other words, the Lord is saying that taking courageous actions (or risks) for His sake and for the Gospel are the only worthy reasons. In Acts 15:26 we read a comment made about Paul and Silas. It says “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJ). Whenever I read through this text, I can’t but pause and ponder on it. What can we risk or courageously do for the Name of Christ? Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Jesus had shied away from the cross? What would have happened if Jesus had doubted the possibility of rising on the third day and so decided not to die for our sins again? I’ve found out that every man (or woman) who is doing great things for the Lord is familiar with courageous activities because the Lord always stretches us from our familiar grounds to places where we must learn to trust and depend on Him absolutely. If you must walk with God then you must get ready for adventures! In the Scriptures, almost everywhere the word ‘courage’ is used, it is qualified with the word ‘good’. Moses says to Joshua: “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.” (Deut.31:6). The Lord said this to Joshua after the death of Moses: “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:6,9). Good courage. Not all courage is good courage. Courage in itself could be good or bad depending on who or what is inspiring it. If your courage is inspired by the Spirit of God, then it’s good courage but if it is inspired by the flesh or the devil, then it is bad courage. Someone could be accomplishing good things with bad courage. The philosophy “the end justifies the means” doesn’t just seem to work with God. We must always ask ourselves: “what is the motivation behind this.” Don’t waste your time and energy! You’d also observe that the words ‘courage’ and ‘fear’ are always put side by side. They are not of the same bunch – they are opposite forces! We must understand that fear is not just an emotion. Fear is an emotion inspired by a spirit – the spirit of fear (2Tim.1:7). God created man to be fearless, but fear came with the fall. Adam then started becoming (unhealthily) afraid of God, the animals, nature and other things he was given dominion over. Today the world is full of fears – fear control a lot of decisions and actions – especially the fear of death and the unknown. This should be different with the New Man in Christ. Understand, just as faith creates the right atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to operate, fear creates the right atmosphere for the devil to work effectively. We must therefore, resist fear anytime it shows up. Let our courageous actions aim solely at honouring the Lord. I remember few years ago when I started out in ministry. One day, I was once talking with my good friend, Emma, when I confidently said to him (as though I was making an announcement to the world) “I am not afraid of making mistakes! I trust the Holy Spirit’s leading and even if I miss it I know He would help me out!” Friends, I never knew the power of those words until I got a little deeper into Kingdom service and I noticed how the Holy Spirit reminds me of those words from time to time and uses them to inspire me to venture new, uncommon and unusual things for the Lord. Unknown to me, courage to venture anything was birthed in me that very day. The Bible is full of men and women of courage; in fact, Hebrews 11 chronicles most of these courageous acts. Now the spotlight is on you. What are you going to courageously stand for in this generation? The Lord needs more believers demonstrating the courage of the Spirit in these days, men who would step out and stand out no matter what it takes. It all begins with knowing that you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Be of good courage!