Who doesn’t want to be courageous? We love the stories of people who defied the odds. We taste the suspense. We feel the sweat and tears. We rejoice in the glory of triumph. As for us, we often feel inadequate in the face of such inspiration. We doubt we would ever have what it takes—even as we secretly long to play a significant role in such a story. Yet ironically, Christians are called to do just that: to be agents of change for good in the world. As Christianity is pushed further into the margins of society, it can be daunting to know how to navigate a strong Christian witness. Such a calling requires courage. We need to rediscover the lost art of being courageous.
Courage begins in everyday life.
We assume courage is reserved for special people in special circumstances. On the contrary, great courage is shaped by doing small things well. Courage is born in the mundane daily routines of life. It is in the small acts of kindness. It is pressing on and making it through a hard day. It is moving toward someone in conflict. It is keeping hope in a stale marriage. Courageous people simply embrace the calling before them. Scanning biographies of any of our favorite heroes, we see that they are imperfect humans who often failed and endured much hardship. Through the tests of life, character was developed that aided them in making the right choice at the right time. A life marked with courage is won by consistent faithfulness.
Courage uses discernment in taking risk.
Courage means risk. We are opened to the possibility of reward or loss; joy or sorrow; glory or shame. It is a calculated choice that might take a split second to make or years of indecision before finally taking the plunge. It might involve suffering short-term loss in hopes of long-term gain. For courage to truly be courage, it normally involves sacrifice and vulnerability. Yet it is not reckless foolishness. Thus, for the Christian, it requires great discernment to know how to practically live out our faith when we are misunderstood as extreme or intolerant. We need discernment to know when to speak up, what to say, and how we are perceived. Courage shines at its best when first begun with prayer and discernment.
Courage means doing the right thing at any cost.
What is courage without opposition? In The Lord of the Rings, could Frodo be courageous had there not been the fires of Mordor? Courage is forged within the vortex of fighting for the good. Courageous people are governed by principles of ethics and a moral framework. This moral responsibility might be tested to the point of great sacrifice. Character matters. Not long ago it was called duty and honor as a normal part of life. This is no longer the case in today’s culture. We minimize subtle temptations. We make small compromises. It feels like no big deal. It’s a gray area. Everyone’s doing it. The rationalizations go on. It takes courage to have integrity. Every day we can choose to be courageous and fight for what’s right. It starts with us.
Courage is required in every act of love.
It is no accident that the greatest stories of courageous heroism involve personal sacrifice for the good of someone else. Courage takes us outside of ourselves to a bigger story of heroic love. The essence of true courage is not self-seeking, but is sacrificial to the core. The greatest virtue has always been love; yet it can be hard to do because it means putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Courage is required in every act of love. This means that you and I can be courageous every day in our relationships as we care for those we love.
Courage is the echo of the Christian Gospel.
All stories of courage are echoes of the main story of life. Where else do we find someone who embodies all these things but in the person of Jesus Christ? For He is the only true hero and rescuer. Even in our bravest moments, we cannot save ourselves. He risked everything, sacrificing His very life. He continues to pursue us in a love story. He fought the real battle between good and evil—and won! He endured the darkest most terrifying things in this world so that we would not have to. In turn, He gives us that same power and strength to be partners with Him in the work of redeeming mankind. Thus, He makes courage a reality for us in the deepest possible way.
We are on the winning side with a sure victory, a confident hope and a sufficient grace that will carry us through, regardless of the way it may seem. We, of all people, should be the most courageous. We have nothing to fear. In Christ, we have everything to gain. Step out of your comfort zone. Watch what God will do.