Courage for the Things of His Kingdom

“Let me say: Thank you for your service!” I thanked him and we continued to read the lesson. I’ve been visiting a different men’s group in my church every week. This was the other “beta” group that is “word-whacking” the men’s curriculum on which my pastor and I are working. This group had a two-week head start, so I was surprised to discover that it was three weeks behind my group. I would not have picked this week, as the story was about an experience I had in Vietnam for which I was subsequently awarded a medal. The lesson was about “love”, but as I walked away that morning, I started thinking about courage.

My twin brother Roger, my hero and teacher, knows a thing or two about courage. Although we both spent a similar amount of time in Vietnam, he fought in battles fiercer than anything I experienced.  His Purple Hearts drew more blood than mine, and his Bronze Star was earned at a much greater cost than my award. Merriam-Webster defines courage as “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous”. I want to tell you that courage is a “construct”. “Construct” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to make or form by combining or arranging parts or elements”.

Let me elaborate.

Courage doesn’t just magically appear in the heat of battle; it is a construct of several elements. Because I am a Marine infantryman, I like to keep it simple. I know my story and I know Roger’s story. In the days I spent with him in the hospital at Danang before he transferred to Japan, there was an incredible number of Marines who came to visit him. Not only did his Marines come to visit, but friends from in and around Danang also showed up (like a Marine “good ol’ boy network). Whenever Marines get together, we tell stories, so I learned things about my brother that I had not known before.

What are the elements that lead to an act of courage? First you have a group of individuals who have shared trials and hardships that create a bond of affection – brotherly love, if you will. Then you have an event that threatens the physical well-being of one or more of these individuals, which results in an almost spontaneous act of courage, whereby one or more of these individuals respond to protect the others by eliminating the threat. Lacking the first element, the bond of fellowship, it’s not likely that you will see real courage demonstrated (not impossible, but improbable).

There is a need for courage in the corporate Church today. While brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are being martyred for their faith, much of the testimony of the American church is silenced by the vocal criticism of the increasingly secular society. Christians are afraid to take a stand against the moral corruption of the world, silenced by the mere thought of retaliation, whether at work, school, or in the neighborhood.

While the word “courage” is not frequently used in Scripture, the word “fear: is. Fear is the opposite of courage. Fear caused the disciples to flee when Jesus was arrested. It caused Peter to deny Him three times. Paul tells us:

“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

Jesus says to us:

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, ESV)

Simply stated, courage is not going to arise in a church that is not experiencing koinonia,

This is defined by Vine’s Dictionary as “communion, fellowship, sharing in common”. If you and I are going to have the courage to live for Christ in an ever-darkening world, it will only come from doing life together – sharing joys, sharing pain, sharing sorrows, and sharing life experiences. God gave us a spirit of “power and love”, and I would go so far as to say that love is the foundation for that power over fear to be demonstrated.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

I want to be a man of courage for the things of His Kingdom, and for that I need you by my side.

What say ye, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 4 Feb 2022

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