Our only basis for bravery

We are to be courageous as we give ourselves completely to God’s work. 

But how?

Lately, I have felt the opposite of strong and courageous, so when I was asked to write about this topic, I was all ears. I knew writing would force me into God’s Word about the subject, and boy, did I need a refresher.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8).

Here in this passage, Moses is speaking to Israel about crossing the Jordan and taking possession of Canaan. He is repeating to them what the Lord has told him. “The Lord will deliver them to you … Be strong and courageous. Do not fear…” (Deuteronomy 31:5,6).

In the Old Testament, there are many commands to be courageous, and they were all given in specific situations (The Lord to Joshua regarding conquest of Canaan, David as he encourages Solomon to build the temple, The Lord’s encouragement in Isaiah, etc.).

So, what about us centuries later?

What are we to be courageous about? About expressing our feelings? Following our dreams? Being our true selves? Making our mark? Changing the world?

I Corinthians 15:58 states, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

We are to be courageous as we give ourselves completely to God’s work. What exactly is God’s work? Listening to Jesus’ final words on this earth can help us answer that: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

How many of us turn away from foreign missions simply out of a lack of courage? How many of us refuse to share the gospel with our neighbors because choose fear instead of bravery?

How many of us don’t attempt to disciple someone because it’s just too daunting? Many of us use the excuses that it’s not practical or safe to avoid the call to bring the gospel to the nations.

Being about the Father’s business is what we were created for and we must fight to not lose sight of this in the midst of life’s demands.

But how?
This is really the question, isn’t it?

The only reason we can be courageous is because GOD is with us. “…for the LORD your God goes with you.” (Deuteronomy 6:6). This is the only basis we have for courage. Not our own wit or slick maneuvering. Not our strength or popularity. Not our talent or wealth.

The GOD of the universe is with us.

  • He’s ahead of us, clearing the way. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.” (Deuteronomy 6:8a).
  • He’s at our side, comforting us. “The Lord himself…will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 6:8b).
  • He is even behind us, tucking us in like a good parent. Psalm 139:5 reminds us, “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”

We are surrounded by God on every side. For this reason, and this reason alone, we can take courage.

In Matthew 4, we see Jesus as our ultimate example in this way. Jesus was about the work of the Lord, fasting in the wilderness preparing for His public ministry. God allowed him to be led by the Spirit …”to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1). As Satan attempted to thwart God’s purposes, Jesus was courageous in the face of temptation.

Even after this vicious battle with Satan, we see Jesus going right to work for His Father. During this time he also became aware of John the Baptist’s imprisonment and beheading. But that didn’t stop Jesus from ministering. He continued to preach, call disciples, heal the sick, and invest in his followers.

Jesus was courageous, even as death breathed down his neck. Very few of us will be called to be courageous to that point. Will we choose to not be discouraged and afraid? Will we instead fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith (who—remember—is with us in every direction) and work courageously for him?

Published February 7, 2017