I Resolve To Be Courageous (Part 11 of 12 in Resolutions Series)
Courage is the ____________ to do the ___________ even when I'm frightened.
Courage is a choice. Yes, it's one you can affirm ahead of time, but it is when you are frightened that the choice to do the right thing really counts. This is especially true when it would be easier or more acceptable to do the wrong thing. To speak out for the right, when just being quiet would be safer. To protect the weak when self-preservation is what you really want. This resolve does not come quickly or easily.
#1 - Courage is ________________ over a lifetime.
"The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine." 1 Samuel 17:37a
The story of courage is often told as if it came out of nowhere. But the truth is that courage... or cowardice... is built over time. We often think of the big Goliath moments when courage is most obvious. God desires us to be courageous for Him and for our faith. He will often give us small challenges to our faith and to our courage.
Here's a truth worth remembering: You will never be courageous in the big moments/challenges of your life, if you are not courageous in the small ones first!
This is why a resolution to be courageous is so important. To be effective you can't just make a resolution to be courageous and then forget about it. You have to bring checks into your life each day.
For example you could resolve that at the end of each day you will ask yourself, "Was I courageous today?" And then spend ten minutes in quiet prayer / meditation before God and ask Him to speak into your life as you think about each event of the day.
#2 - Courage includes being ________________ .
"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Exodus 3:11 NIV
Sometimes people confuse the issue of being scared as somehow NOT being courageous. Yes, I did the right thing but I was soooo scared. As if being scared somehow lessens the amount of courage it took. The exact opposite is true.
There is no courage involved when it's easy to do the right thing, or customary to do the right thing, or expected to do the right thing.
For example, there really is little courage involved for me to stand in front of you and preach because I'm used to it, I'm kind of an outgoing person, and I actually enjoy doing it. But two weeks ago, when Bethany stood in this very same place and preached? That took courage! Why? Because Bethany is not an extravert. She has great things to say and God speaks mightily through her, but she would much prefer just to sit back and let anyone else do it!
At every turning point in Christian history, when a saint stood up to do the right thing, they were rarely regarded as a saint at the time. In fact many gave their lives so that we might enjoy the Christian faith we've inherited.
Believe me when I tell you that Stephen and Polycarp and John Huss and William Tyndale and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were all scared when they acted courageously!
How to do the right thing for God when you're scared? Put the A for Almighty before the C for Courage. Sacred instead of Scared. God will give you the strength for courage!
#3 - Courage moves me ___________ through times of grief and pain.
"Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." Ruth 1:16 NIV
Sometimes we think that courage only counts for those great men and women of history with exciting biographies who stood up for God. The truth is that sometimes is takes courage just to get up in the morning and keep going.
Anyone who has suffered through grief or loss or depression knows what I'm talking about. Grief, loss or depression can be so overwhelming that it would be easier to just quit life. Sometimes that is what we honestly want. It takes courage to move forward one day at a time when we are overwhelmed with such negative emotions.
Ruth is our example of someone who courageously stayed with Naomi even though it would have been easier for her to quit the family.
Do you think God doesn't honor such courage? Even when it seems small or underwhelming? When we're ashamed to even talk about it?
Remember that in the long list of ancestors given for Jesus, that only 3 women were named. And one of them was Ruth! Never underestimate what God can do with your courage, no matter how small you may think it is!
#4 - Courage ______________ failure and forgiveness.
"Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will." / "Suddenly, Jesus' words flashed through Peter's mind ... and he broke down and wept." Mark 14: 29 & 72 NIV
Here is another surprising place where courage is so important. Peter promised courage but was instead was a coward when it came time to stand up for Jesus the night of his betrayal.
Peter's shame over his own failure to live up to his own expectations was overwhelming. Indeed when he saw Jesus again, he broke down and wept. We usually focus on the grief of the tears and miss the "broke down" part.
The truth is we all fail. Some failures, though, are more difficult to accept than others. When our failure brings us to our knees with the realization that we are not really the person we thought we were, or the person we want to be... then it is more likely than not that we remain broken.
And when we think of "broken" we usually also think of "unusable" or "worthless."
This is both an irony and a paradox of the Christian faith: you really are not usable to God when you are full of yourself and overconfident in your own abilities. When you are supposedly "unbroken." Why? Because you'll never rely upon God's strength.
God uses broken pieces! God uses us when we think we are so broken that we are unusable. Because then we will rely upon God's power and strength. To get to that point, you must accept your brokenness, your failure, and along with all that - God's forgiveness.
#5 - Courage provides ________________ for loyalty and love.
"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son.' And to the disciple, 'Here is your mother,' From that time on, this disciple took here into his home."John 19:26-27 NIV
Our final Biblical example of courage comes from John, who courageously stood before Jesus in His dying moments on the cross. It took courage to stand with Jesus' mother in that moment. Not just courage because of the Romans, but courage to stand in that horrible emotional gap of Mary's pain and suffering. How difficult that must have been!
Jesus rewarded John's courage by trusting his own mother into John's care. How much Jesus must have loved Mary! How much Jesus must have loved AND TRUSTED John!
When you demonstrate courage in the face of difficulty and you stand for the right in your faith, then Jesus knows your true loyalty. How about you? Can Jesus trust you? Will you resolve to be courageous for Jesus?