Courage in the sense of bravery deserves our study and practice, especially when we consider how overdone cautiousness, the spirit of fear, controls so many in the human family; and how God’s people in most cases must wage a lifelong battle with it.
But as with many other Christian graces, courage has counterfeits that are often palmed off as the real thing. One of these is daredeviltry, the spirit that characterizes those who “rush in where angels fear to tread.” Another is rashness, the quality that thoughtlessly undertakes dangerous tasks without taking into account the factors inherent in the situation, such as one’s ability to cope with the situation, its difficulties, its dangers, its opposing agents, etc. A third is the presumption that overrates one’s own abilities to cope with dangers, and that engages in foolhardy behavior. Nor is boasting courage, as those of Goliath, Ben-hadad and Peter, followed by their falls, prove.
Courage may be defined as a sober, fearless, brave and self-forgetful attitude of mind, heart and will in the presence of danger. If danger were not present in a situation, we would not think courage to characterize one facing the pertinent situation; therefore, threatening danger is a presupposition of courage. The opposite of courage is fear, dismay, terror, fright and cowardice.
The Great Need of Courage
The elect and quasi-elect classes need courage: (1) to demonstrate their loyalty and self-sacrifice amid the conditions of opposition to which God’s cause finds itself; (2) to meet these conditions properly; (3) to be a part of their character fitting them for their present and future missions; and (4) to prove overcomers. Their brethren are in need of their exercising courage: (1) in order to bring them the Truth; (2) to encourage them in their Christian warfare; and (3) to help them to victory over their enemies. Finally, the world needs their exercising courage: (1) for it brings them now some needed help and blessing; and (2) it will prove a blessed experience for them, when they come on trial for life in the Millennial Mediatorial Reign.
The Advantages of Courage
Great are the advantages of courage. First, it pleases God, it reflects credit upon Him and it advances His cause. Second, courage is very helpful to its possessors. It gives victory; puts to flight its enemies; checks the efforts of our faults, lacks and weaknesses to subjugate us; it makes hard things easier to overcome; it saves us from defeat; it helps every grace to develop and to maintain its gains under pressure of hard fighting; its exercise develops, strengthens, balances and crystallizes it; and it helps its neighbor graces in the same ways. Finally, it helps our brethren in their warfare. It encourages the weak, strengthens the strong and reinforces all fellow soldiers in all the features of their warfare; it helps them as sentinels, it supports them as aggressors, it reinforces them as defenders and it stimulates them as endurers; and it rallies a sagging line, it inspirits an advancing line and it makes a resisting line stand firm
The Enemies of Courage
Courage is the quality that comes to the fore in our Christian warfare, for we have enemies with whom we are at war against. Satan is a powerful, subtle and persevering enemy. But when he sees that he alone cannot defeat us, he enlists the world on his side against us. He uses its sinfulness, selfishness, erroneous and worldliness against us. This is sometimes done in our families, our business and working associates, our friends, our enemies, civic, state and national officials and the nominal church. But Satan’s most powerful ally against us is our own fallen flesh. Through its depravity he seeks to bring us to sin and error; and especially through its natural propensities he seeks to lure us into selfishness and worldliness.
But though surrounded by a world of mighty foes let us still maintain our courage, knowing that our God and our Captain are mightier than they, and are on our side. Finally, let us make efficient use of the whole armor of God in our warfare, having on the Gospel sandals, the girdle of service, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of hope, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit and the greaves of love to protect our symbolic legs.