Winston Churchill said courage is the most important virtue because the effective practice of all other virtues depends upon courage.

Virtuous behavior does not come naturally.  And let’s not kid ourselves…it takes inner courage and moral strength to follow Christ and embrace his virtuous life.

When was the last time you wore courage on your sleeve?

  • It takes courage to push back the darkness by seeking peace and thereby imitate God.
  • It takes courage to admit mistakes, make restitution, and seek shalom in our relationships.
  • It takes courage to forgive and love our enemies.
  • It takes courage to confront evil, stand for righteousness and seek justice.
  • It takes courage to live with open hands, sacrificing generously, and trusting God to look after us. 
  • It takes courage to resist the siren call of temptation, and live a counter-cultural life of righteousness.
  • It takes courage to overcome the fear of rejection and ridicule, and not be a people-pleaser.
  • It takes courage to stand firm with integrity when our business is threatened, our reputation assaulted, and our well-being put at risk.
  • It takes courage to leave the safety of the predictable and the security of the known when God prompts us to step forward into the unknown. 
  • It takes courage to speak up…and let the world know we follow Christ.

Courage always requires overcoming fear, disapproval, anxiety, and even pain.

Courageous Christ-followers always put God first.  Consider the courage of Thomas More, Prime Minister to Henry VIII.  When he refused to acknowledge the King as head of the Church of England, More was beheaded for taking his stand and defying the king.  But before he died he spoke these stirring words of courage, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

There are stories of courage that take our breath away.  In his book “Rumours of Another World,” Philip Yancey retells the courage of a black South African mother.  In the era of apartheid, she was forced to watch as her 18-year-old son, and then her husband were murdered and their bodies burned by the Police.  When Truth and Reconciliation came, the perpetrators of such atrocities were given clemency if they willingly faced their accusers and acknowledged their guilt.  When the policeman named van de Broek publicly recounted his crime, this mother was given an opportunity to respond.  She said she wanted de Broek to gather up the dust of her husband’s burned body so he could have a decent burial.  And then the courtroom was shocked when she said,

“My family was taken from me, but I still have a lot of love to give.  Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him.  And I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God and that I forgive him too.  I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real.” 

Spontaneously, the courtroom started singing Amazing Grace.  Van de Broek didn’t hear the hymn.  He had fainted, overwhelmed.”

This is courage in action…courage to confront the difficult…courage to forgive the seemingly unforgivable… the courage to love enemy.

The Bible has a lot to say about courage.

God tells Joshua to be very strong and courageous, because “I will be with you.”  (Joshua 1:9)
The presence of God is the source of our courage.

King David said because God had revealed His will to him that he “found the courage to pray to you.”  (1 Chronicle 17:25)   The revelation of God’s will for us through his Word births courage.

The disciples were attacked by fear during the storm, but Christ appeared and said, “Take courage; it is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  (Matthew 14:27)  The presence of Jesus emboldens us with courage.

And our prayers help others to be courageous.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and said, “For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  And I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage…”  (Philippians 1:19-20)

Sometime this week, this month, this year, the moment of testing will be upon us.  Fear will rise up in the throat.  And when it does… in the words of Jesus, “Take courage.”

Success is not final, failure is not fatal.
It is the courage to continue that counts.

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