I wrote in August 2009 of the fear a parent has when they send their child out into the world.The fear comes from sending them into a society that chooses to ignore God and live life in the manner which is very similar to Sodom and Gomorrah.Our prayer for our children is that they will always keep God first in their life and base EVERY decision they make on how it will allow them to serve him best.
The prayer often centers on the matter of courage.“Please give us the courage to withstand Satan and all the tricks he will employ, and that we will look for God’s promised path of escape so he will be glorified through our actions.”
Our society has a slanted view on the subject of courage.In our society, those looked up to, most revered are those who show acts of heroism in life threatening situations.It is true that most people have more physical courage than they realize.But it is also true that men who would not hesitate to risk bodily harm to save someone’s life will often be unwilling to risk ridicule to save someone’s (or their own) soul.
Moral courage is much more rare than physical courage, but it is MUCH more important.
Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go
The scriptures show us that moral courage sometimes requires physical courage.True and deep commitment to the Lord is not without its physical dangers.In John’s letters to the seven churches at Asia he states that we need to be “…faithful until death.”This does not mean be faithful until the day you die, though that is what we are encouraged to do, but rather be faithful to the point of dying for the cause of Christ.It was something that would be asked of Christians throughout the ages, even today.
Heb. 11:32-38 - And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth
Our very lives may be required of us: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Rev. 12:11).”
Paul’s attitude serves as a good example.Two passages in Acts bring these to our understanding:
Acts 20:22-24 - And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God
Acts 21:10-14 - And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
It is not impossible that such courage might be required of us today.
More often we are threatened by intangible dangers.Unfortunately, Satan knows the kinds of things we are most afraid of:
Embarrassment Being “labeled” Poor grades Unfriendliness Minority Status Loss of social esteem Rejection and hostility Loss of job Loss of money Loss of things
Knowing our personal fears, Satan threatens us at those points, knowing that we will do nearly anything to avoid suffering those things.It is appropriate for us to look at examples of moral courage shown in the scriptures
Consider Noah who Peter describes as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).His account is found in Genesis 6:5-21:
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.So the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark-you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
A world full of evil, temptation, yet Noah was found faithful.Imagine the ridicule Noah and his family must have suffered as they built the ark.It was not raining at the time they started the ark.It didn’t start until they had finished.There was no body of water large enough to float the ark on.It would be fair to assume Noah and his family felt the effects of “peer” pressure, yet Noah did all that God commanded
Hebrews 11:7 -By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith
Moses was brought up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.We’re told in Exodus 2:11-15, “Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, "Why are you striking your companion?"Then he said, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" So Moses feared and said, "Surely this thing is known!"When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.”
He hears God’s voice and the plan for him.
Exodus 3:1-10 - Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.
In chapter 3:11 through chapter 4:17, Moses offers a variety of excuses to not obey God.Finally in chapter 4:18-26 he agrees to go, knowing that death could await him.In chapter 5 we see he is rejected not only by Pharaoh, but by the very people he is sent to deliver.In chapters 7-11, Moses continues to confront Pharaoh with miracles and through a series of plagues.Finally Pharaoh lets God’s people go.But even in freedom, we see many occasions where the Israelites continue to rebel and sin against God.
Politicians today seem to be guided by polls and focus groups instead of morals of any kind.They would do well to learn from the example of Moses.It would have been very easy for Moses to conform, to give up, to give in.The peer pressure he faced was enormous.
Hebrews 11:24-29 - By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.
In the New Testament, Peter demonstrates that one can be physically courageous, still lack moral courage.His story is found in Matthew 26:31-35, where we are told, “Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!"
When the soldiers came to take Jesus, we see the physical courage Peter has.In John 18:10-25 we’re told, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear;And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest.But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not."Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself; Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not!"One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?"Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.” Other gospels tell us that upon the roster crowing, Peter goes out and weeps at what he has done.
How often are we like Peter?Strong for Christ when we believe ourselves “safe” and the try to blend into the world when we are on our own.”
But, because of God’s love for us, we have a chance to rid ourselves of our sinful nature and put on Spirit of Christ through baptism.The transformation we can show in our lives is akin to the example of Peter in the remainder of the New Testament.We see Peter becoming an extremely strong force in the growth of Christianity in the first century.
Acts 2:5-6 - And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language
Peter explains what is occurring:
Verse 25-41 - For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation.Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
Speaking, to much of the same crowd that weeks earlier crucified the Son of God, Peter showed the courage that was grounded in the triumph of God over every kind of evil.
He would not allow the same kind of pressure cause him to again deny Our Lord Jesus Christ.If we give in to such pressure and deny Christ, we place ourselves among those who confess Christ only when little is at stake.But Christ asks us to lead a life, in word and deed, which confesses Him regardless of the danger: “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8, 9).
To be ashamed of Christ is to be lost: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38).
It is through Christ — and only through Him — that we can “do all things” (Phil. 4:13).
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
There is no need for fear: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
It is a victorious Savior whom we follow - Rev. 19:11-16.
We see in Rev. 21:1-7 that it is the overcomer through Christ who will enjoy heaven.In verse 8 we’re told, “But cowardice can damn our very souls: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35-39).
There is more joy in one moment of integrity and moral courage than there is in a lifetime of bowing to the pressure of evil.
For her part, our daughter has faced the things we wanted to continue to shield her from.I am very proud to say, everyone knows she is a Christian and that comes first in her life.