BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS

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After wandering through the  wilderness for forty years, the Israelites finally reached  the other side of  Jordan. Moses  has already left them and  it was Joshua who was to lead them to the promised land.  Before  commencing  the  final lap of their long and arduous journey, God told Joshua to ‘be strong and courageous’ (Josh 1:6). This  instruction was  so important that  God  repeated it twice again (Josh 1:7, 1:9).  Strangely  the response from the people who were informed of  God’s future plans under the leadership of Joshua was also a repeat of  what  God said. ‘Only be strong and courageous’(Josh 1:18).

Courage is a virtue essential to  enter the promised land. Courage is essential to enter the   eternal kingdom too. In the book of Revelation we read  about a long list of persons who are  denied entry into the  kingdom of God.  It is  not surprising that the  first  name among this list is that of cowards. ‘But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the  polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns  with fire and sulfur which is the second death’ (Rev 21:8).

‘Choosing rather to  share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the  fleeting  pleasures of sin’ (Heb 11:25) needs courage like Moses. The kingdom of  God is subject to force, says the  Lord. To  force our flesh to  be subservient to the spirit  needs courage. To flee from the cities of  sin, we need  courage like  Lot. Going to the  palaces of Herodes and  telling them that   they are living in sin  needs  the courage  to sacrifice one’s own life. To say ‘we must  obey God rather than any human authority’ (Acts 5:29), that too at the face of  men in authority needs  courage like Peter.

Courage is  essential to proclaim the Word. This was  why the  early Church prayed for  the courage to preach the  Word. ‘And now, Lord, look at their  threats, and grant  to your servants to speak your word with all boldness’ (Acts 4:30). Such was the courage  of Peter, John, and other apostles that the  members of the council were  amazed when these  ‘uneducated and ordinary men’ (Acts 4:13) fearlessly declared  the eternal truth that  disturbed them. ‘There is  salvation in no one else, for there is no  other name under heaven given  among mortals by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).

Confessing that Jesus is the only Savior  calls for  courage. This  confession  brings with it  its due share of persecution and ‘to share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ  Jesus’ (2 Tim 2:3) also needs  courage. Again  to  stand for Christ  when we are ‘brought before kings and governors’ ( Lk 21:12), extra ordinary courage  is required.

These days call for  the courage to stand for  Christ and what he taught us. Those without this courage will ‘put their hands to the  plow but will later look back  and  make themselves   not fit for the kingdom of God’ ( Lk 9:62).

The Scripture assures us that all baptized Christian are blessed with  courage. ‘ For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of  power and  of love and of  self-discipline’ (2 Tim 1:7). The Spirit that  works in us is the same Spirit that  raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11).

So, let us  shun cowardice and embrace  the spirit of  courage that will help us  to stay strong and brave in the final lap of our  race to claim ‘the  crown of  righteousness from the  Lord,the righteous judge’ ( 2 Tim 4:8)

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