The Bible is a book that is filled with accounts of courageous men and women, people who faced down danger and death with lion-like boldness (Proverbs 28:1). Turning to our Old Testament we can read the story of Gideon, who had the courage to turn away from the false religion of his father. He threw down the altar of Baal and built an altar to the true and living God (Judges 6). We might also read of Esther, who had the courage to thwart custom by going before her king unbidden to plead for the lives of her people (Esther 4:16). Her courageous act saved the lives of countless people.
Going further into our Old Testament we read the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These young men knew that if they refused to worship the king’s idol they would be thrown into the burning fiery furnace, yet they courageously refused. It took a tremendous level of mental and emotional strength to do what was right even in the face of death (Daniel 3). Listen to what these three young men said to a king, “be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18).
These examples teach us so much about the wonderful virtue of courage that the world seems to miss. Many see one who is courageous almost as a bullheaded reckless fool who rushes into danger and, against all odds, survives the impossible. But the scriptures show us quite a different picture. The Word of God paints courage as the virtue that can help us stand for what is right even when we know it will bring abuse on us. It takes tremendous courage to speak the truth on controversial issues. Just ask John the Baptist. He was beheaded because he spoke about morality to someone who was determined to live an immoral life (Matthew 14:4-10).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot allow the world to dictate what we can and cannot believe. Nor can we allow fear to stop us from declaring God’s truth on moral issues. Whether it is a “hot topic” in the news, like homosexuality, or one of the more commonly accepted evils like rampant divorce, Christians must stay true to our Lord and share His message of freedom from sin with the world around us (Romans 6:23; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Some may frown at religious people for speaking out against immorality. Some may go beyond a frown and declare it to be wrong, intolerant or unconstitutional to speak against sin. But the truth is it really doesn’t matter what the majority feels, believes and declares. When God condemns a practice, His people must stand with Him. God’s ways are much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8- 9). God’s Word condemns sexual immorality in all its forms, including fornication, adultery, and yes, even homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9; Leviticus 18:22; Ephesians 5:11). It is not easy to be God’s watchmen, but He fully expects His people to warn others of the dangers of sin (Ezekiel 33).
Some may say religion is for the weak, but being a follower of Christ is not for the faint of heart. To walk in the steps of Jesus we must be ready to confront sin even if it makes us social outcasts. Even if it costs us our business, our friends, our good standing or even our head, we must be valiant for the truth that sets men free from the bondage of sin (Romans 1:16; Philippians 1:17; 1 Timothy 3:15; John 8:32). It takes far more courage to speak the truth when it is unpopular and unwelcome than it does to follow the crowd (Exodus 23:2). Those wonderful Old Testament examples remind each one of us that courage is an attainable virtue. It can be a reality for all who put their trust in God (Psalm 27:14). May we all have the courage and strength of heart to say and do what is right no matter the cost. Do you have the courage to declare “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)?
4th & Stewart church of Christ Weekly Bulletin, August 19, 2012.