A Man of Courage
I am working on editing my Bible commentaries, which are written and ready to put out to the masses. In case you missed the announcement, I have already published my verse-by-verse study from Matthew and Acts, and Mark is in the preparation stage. It took me nine years to write this New Testament commentary, which I am calling Live the Word. The purpose is not just to have you study the Word, but also to apply the Word.
As I was editing the Mark manuscript this week, I was struck by a simple fact: Jesus was a man of courage. It took great courage to confront the culture of His day and the people who were convinced they were doing God’s will by protecting and preserving the traditions as their fathers had handed them down through the ages.
Most people believe that courage is acting in the absence of fear, but that is not a good definition. I prefer to think of courage as acting in the midst of, or in spite of, your fears. Fear is assessed in the mind when you have a thought that tells you, “If you do that, something bad will happen.” You can’t wait for that thought to go away, or you will never act! You must instead counter that thought with another thought that says, “If I don’t do that, something worse will happen” and then act.
In 2 Samuel 23, we read about one man who turned a battle in God’s favor by standing his ground. While everyone else fled in fear, a man named Shammah exercised courage even though he was surrounded by fear:
Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory (2 Samuel 23:11-12).
It takes courage to be a person of purpose, to go against culture that tells you, “Find a job, pay your bills, be happy with what you have.” It takes courage to follow your heart to chase your dreams, overcoming the “Philistine” who constantly harass and oppose you. That is what I have tried to do, and I have encouraged others to do the same. That will require courage, and you will have to learn how to deal with your fears rather than waiting for them to subside and evaporate.
The good news is that Jesus understands and is ready to help you function with the same courage that He exercised. The question is whether or not you will choose to access and then operate with that courage. It is certainly easier and safer (usually) not to do so, but rather to talk about what you will do, brag about what you will do, dream about what you will do, write about what you will, and testify about what you will do. Talk is cheap but talk is not courage unless your talk motivates you to move past fear and into purpose.
As I wrote my commentary, focusing on four verses every day for nine years, I had to deal with all kinds of fears. Now as I publish them, the fears are still present. Yet every day, I do something to bring me closer to my goal of publishing these devotionals that will help many the world over, now and after I am gone, Lord willing. For what do you need to exercise some courage this week to step out, like Jesus did, and make a difference, even if no one applauds or gives you a parade. If you need help, you only have to ask, and the God of courage will come and fill your heart with faith to act on the faith that is in your heart.
Originally published on The Monday Memo.