When you hear the word “courage,” what comes to mind? I think of a soldier bravely running to the aid of a wounded comrade on a battlefield, ignoring the hail of bullets all around him. I think of a firefighter entering a burning building to rescue someone trapped inside. I think of a parent jumping into a lake to save a drowning child, even though the parent is not a particularly good swimmer.
Perhaps some other images quickly come to your minds. However, demonstrations of courage don’t always involve life-and-death scenarios. We live in a day and time when great courage is needed – and too often lacking – in the face of the culture in which we live.
Recently I read that a study by the respected Barna Research Group determined out of an estimated 155 million men and women in the American workforce, only about eight million live and perform their jobs with a biblical worldview. That’s just over five percent. Do you think it takes courage to hold true to one’s values and convictions – things like honesty, excellence, morality, integrity, compassion, hard work, humility, kindness and fairness – in a working environment when such virtues are often ignored or even discouraged?
We find ourselves in environments where the reasonable exchange of ideas and opinions has come under fire. “Dissenters” being “cancelled,” a contemporary equivalent of being shunned, simply for holding views contrary to the prevailing narrative. Do you think it requires courage to stick to one’s guns (perhaps literally as well as figuratively) and not cower in the face of societal pressures?
One criterion for being a fruitful and consistent follower of Jesus Christ is courage. His disciples had it 2,000 years ago, and we need it as well. One definition of courage is “mental or moral strength, to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” Being a person of faith on many settings – college campuses, in the marketplace, the entertainment world, and yes, politics – can pose a severe test of one’s courage.
This is hardly a new development. In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses was preparing to pass the baton on to his protégé, Joshua, designated to complete the mission of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Many hostile groups of people already inhabited that lush territory, so Moses wanted to be sure Joshua was ready for the assignment.
First, he reminded the Israelites of what God had already done in delivering them from Egypt and providing for their needs during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Moses sought to encourage them with these words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Then, knowing God forbade him from personally leading them into the Promised Land, Moses turned and spoke directly to their new leader, Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them…. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).
After Moses had died and the Israelites eagerly awaited their marching orders, God made certain Joshua had gotten the message. “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead this people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go…. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).
In many parts of the world where Christ’s followers face daily persecution, these words are as crucial as they were when Joshua and the people of Israel heard them thousands of years ago. For our believing brothers and sisters in other lands, courage is indeed a matter of life and death. The potential for becoming martyrs for their faith is an everyday reality.
The level of spiritual opposition hasn’t increased to that level in our nation. Not yet. But on many fronts, followers of Christ are being ridiculed, challenged, sued, and even imprisoned because of unwavering commitment to biblical values and standards they hold dear.
I suspect that unless God ignites a massive spiritual awakening in America, persecution will escalate dramatically, perhaps sooner than we could imagine. If and when that occurs, we’ll face a choice: One is to compromise or renounce our faith, knowing that Jesus warned, “whoever denied Me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). Or we can resolve to remain true to our faith, regardless of the ramifications. Be strong and courageous!
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.