Four marks of true bravery

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

In our previous blog, we issued a call to show daring courage and take necessary risk for things eternally true found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what does true bravery look like?

True bravery will not look like how the world flaunts it. True bravery will be quieter, less applauded and certainly not mainstream. The world around us has such brash, loud “brave-ers” that our attempts at bravery will barely bat an eye.

It also will go against the norm of mainstream American Christianity where the waters are tepid and stagnant. Even though we like books about being “radical,” we see very few being “radical.” Instagramming bravery is exponentially easier than living it. Nominal Christianity is a broad road with many travelers, yet true bravery is a narrow path with few companions.

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You’re safe and sound and
Until now it’s where I’ve been
— Nicole Nordeman, “Brave”

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the middle ground. As believer and as a leader, I want to walk in true bravery. So, what does that look like?

True Bravery is a belief in an unchanging truth.

This headline says it all: ‘Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

The Oxford dictionary defines “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

True Bravery for believers requires a plum line of what will constitute reality and therefore give us definition to life and meaning. This is not easy in our present landscape. Nothing is more thwarted in the eyes of the world than the idea of absolute truth. We live in a world where “truth is fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14).

The Word of God informs us and defines truth. And thank goodness because the lines seem to have very blurry; we see it everywhere culturally, morally and religiously. Yet we acknowledge that any human thought, idea, belief, or philosophy that does not agree with the timeless truth of God’s Word is errant.

We believe Truth because, ”You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth frees us from bondage. No matter what present culture tells us. Our world is so accommodating to issues that fail to give us the satisfaction we crave—we end up in greater bondage, not less.

“If you’re not confident in the authority of Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right.” — Matt Chandler

Yet believing truth and clinging to truth without love is brutal and not at all in the essence of our Heavenly Father. Only God is the perfect balance of absolute truth and unconditional love, yet we must maintain our truth foothold with love.

True bravery holds to truth in love.

True Bravery is a vibrant faith which trusts in Him.

The critical element for believing women to act bravely is faith and trust in God—not confidence in our flesh or personal strength. In fact, we are completely inadequate to be brave by ourselves.

Bravery and faith go hand in hand. True bravery is driven by trust and faith in God’s presence and in His power.

True bravery walks by faith.

True Bravery is secure in His love.

His perfect love drives out all fear. When we are living rooted in His love, we are so secure that we do not live in fear or regard with what others think. We are not looking over our shoulder for applause or for accolades from others. Instead, we are able to be boldly obedient and shun status quo—not because it’s trendy, but because we rest in a love that frees us from fear of men. The Bible says, “fear of man is a snare.” It holds us back.

‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything
But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings
— Nicole Nordeman, “Brave”

It’s time to cut the strings of constantly or frequently worrying about what others’ think.

True bravery rests in the security of His love.

True Bravery is driven by gospel mission.

The mission is worth the risk.

True bravery must have an eternal cause that drives us to selfless boldness. True bravery is not reduced to draw attention to ourselves, achieve personal gain or incite a popular persona. The end game is a cause—a calling. The gospel mission is the reason Jesus bravely stepped out of Heaven into a womb of a woman and began the process to “seek and save that which was lost.”

Jesus left us with a final command—the great commission—when He handed off His personal mission to us. It’s an unavoidable assignment. Yet, avoid it we have.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18-20).

In many ways, the gospel mission is the ultimate deal breaker in practicing true bravery. It really is the point of being brave. Because there is no other purpose or product worth showing a “daring courage and being willing to take a necessary risk.”

Bravery is required to advance the gospel on this planet. Playing it safe will not spread this gospel; we’ve been doing that, and the results are in—it’s not working.

We need to be brave and pray for boldness for gospel sharing, gospel teaching and gospel living. The early church got it as they repeatedly sought boldness.

After praying for boldness in Acts 4:29, we see the reality of boldness that rested on them in verse 31. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

True bravery drives gospel sharing.

“That words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).

Do these four things mark your life, sisters? True bravery may only been seen and valued by God. Don’t look for your Twitter clout score or for your Facebook followers to go up. Look for treasures in heaven. Don’t anticipate that a tepid Christianity around you will understand if you begin to pursue a bravery meant for another world.

Published January 11, 2017

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.