Greater Than Fear

I am currently taking a Composition class, and recently wrote a short definition essay about courage and its importance in a believer’s life. I have been urged by several people to post it, so here it is. Enjoy.

Greater Than Fear

Courage is a quality with a thousand definitions, the majority of which depend upon the opinion of the definer. The dictionary definition is, “…the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.” A person in the military may believe courage is what drives him to fight on the front lines and prepares him to die for the welfare of an entire nation. G. K. Chesterton believed an aspect of this, saying, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” A plethora of examples of what is perceived to be courage and its products exist, but I believe courage to be something very different from the most common definitions.

Harper Lee defined courage accurately in her book, To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus, a main character in the book, was speaking to his son, Jem, when he said: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” In the Vietnam War, something drove many soldiers to continue fighting, even with the chaos of war surrounding them. One must only imagine walking through the jungles of Vietnam, struggling to fight with the corpses of fellow brothers in arms scattered across the ground, to get a sense of the reality in this definition. Courage gave soldiers the strength to carry on. Lee’s definition is correct, but is it complete? I believe her concept of courage is lacking a key ingredient: purpose. Why does courage carry us through a noble task amongst incomprehensible opposition?

Since ancient times, wars between tribes, states, and nations have been waged constantly. The nation which successfully builds an empire is the one that efficiently utilizes the most destructive weapon of all: fear. Adolf Hitler used this powerful force to his advantage in World War II, a war in which tens of millions were killed. Fear also proved itself to be Hitler’s own undoing through his suicide. Courage is the antonym of fear; to resist fear, one must have courage. Another famous author of American literature had his own definition for courage. Mark Twain said, “Courage is the resistance to fear, the mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.” For there to be courage, there must also be fear. Courage has to be in opposition to something; otherwise, there would be no need for courage. Bravery caused the Allied forces to stand the gap against Germany’s seemingly unstoppable reign of terror. Is that all there is to bravery though? Is courage simply overcoming fear, without any purpose? What truly caused millions of men to accomplish that which many would label brave?

Although the definitions I have given so far are rather insightful, I believe they are insufficient, because they do not answer the simple question of purpose. Why do soldiers continue to fight when victory seems to be unreachable? Why does a believer in Christ stand up for what he knows to be right amongst those who might persecute him? My favorite definition of courage explains this; it is a revised version of Ambrose Redmoon’s definition, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather action, based upon the realization that there is something more important.” This is why: Something greater than our fear exists, and that is why we persevere through difficult times; that is why we fight for our nation, and that is one reason believers stand up for the Word of God.

No matter what definition for courage the reader prefers, it likely contains truth. I believe the definition stated above is the best because it describes not only what courage truly is, but why we must have courage: because there is something of greater importance than our fear, and ultimately ourselves. In reality, true courage cannot be practiced with a selfish attitude; it must be performed with humility of mind, regarding others as more important than oneself. In fact, to practice any other virtue, one must have courage. C. S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Whenever one encounters a trial, he faces fear. To truly practice any virtue, one must have the courage to overcome this fear, realizing the end result is much more important than the fear that impedes one from growth as a believer. Courage is one of the most important virtues one can possess, as it drives all others. As Christians, we cannot walk with the Lord without courage.

The Word

Get Over Yourself

This weekend I was on a short summer vacation, and was able to see a younger friend whom I had not been with for about a year and a half.  Throughout the weekend, the boy would have a rebellious attitude toward the things his parents told him to do, responding to his parents’ commands with rejection.  My mother encouraged me to talk to him about it, and challenge him about whether it was right or wrong for him to do so.  I didn’t really desire to do so, I didn’t want to get in that situation, as it would be uncomfortable for us both.  The next morning in my devotions, I didn’t have my Bible available so I opened my Bible app on my phone.  The passage it was set on was this:

Titus 3:1,2

1  Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,2  to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

  I prayed that morning, before I read the Scripture, that I would take to heart what I read in His word that morning and practice it throughout the day.  And what do I find?  A passage that dealt with the very thing I was struggling with.  God used His Scripture to give me a kick in the boot. To say, “Noah, you need to do this.” I find it amazing how quickly and effectively God uses His Word to challenge us to do something.  That day I purposed to speak to the boy about his behavior. I mentioned things to him several times throughout the day and then that night, while talking about the church we were going to tomorrow, he asked me, “So how do you get to heaven?” and so I was able to share the gospel with him again, as he had already heard it, but I was able to stress repentance, which he hadn’t heard before.

You see, if we can(through the Lord’s help) get over ourselves, our own fear and pride about how situations where we talk about our faith with unbelievers make us look, then there is nothing holding us back from what we know we need to do as followers of Christ.  When we struggle with such sin, we should always pray and look to His Word, and God will show us what to do.

If you could keep the boy in your prayers, as he is not a believer but is interested. And interest is sometimes a sign of God calling someone. The boy’s name is Drew.

The Word

A King

Something that we as Christians do not normally think about was brought to my attention just this last week at a camp put on by my church. Jesus is not only our God, but He is our King. He is proven to be a King, having been born in the line of David as prophesied in the Bible. Now a thought in reply to this statement maybe something like, “Well that’s a good thought, but how does that change the way I am living my life right now?” Well, we as Christians tend to do the things Christ commanded us to do out of obligation, not necessarily doing them with joy, but rather with a sense of duty. Now take the statement, “Jesus is our King,” and think about my previous sentence in that light. How do the subjects of a good king respond to the king’s commands? They do them with joy, hoping to please the king.

See, now it changes everything. From the things we say, to the urgency with which we do what our King has commanded us.  We should be desirous to do what Christ commanded us to honor Him as King, and we should be drawing others into Christ’s kingdom, that they may serve Him as well.  And there are many people who do not know His love.  Studies show that there are approximately 6 billion people in the world who do not know Christ.  That is our mission as soldiers of the King, to go out and make disciples of all the nations. Christ our King has shown us His extravagant love, and why should we be scared to show it to those whom have not heard? It is our flesh, using pride and fear of what others may think to stop us.  Ah, think of the difference we could make if we even just took the time to share with one person every other day. And we still have trouble doing just that.  Our flesh is strong, but He is stronger.  Though we are weak, wrapped and bound in these chains of flesh, we can through our strong and magnificent King, accomplish anything.