Updated: Apr 13, 2019
With hearts racing, sweaty palms and trembling legs, many men and women have overcome the sensation of fear by faith - knowing that God is with them.
Courage is a quality we see portrayed in many books, movies, music and art. We especially love a good story about average people experiencing triumphant success despite all the odds stacked against them. Men who bravely stare into the face of adversity, bold and courageous – overcoming internal conflict and fear. Joshua from the Bible is such a story.
‘Be strong and courageous’ was God’s command to Joshua before he was about to enter the Promised Land with the people. God repeated this phrase three times from verses 6-9.
Joshua 1v6 ‘Be strong and courageous...’
Joshua 1v7 ‘Only be strong and very courageous...’
Joshua 1v9 ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’
Just like other valiant men who were called by the Lord to forge ahead in complete obedience to perform extraordinary tasks, Joshua had to solely rely on God’s Word and trust that He will perform all that He promised.
Joshua had to overcome any fears or doubt about the way he was about to enter, despite his enemy being powerful and strong. God promised that His divine power would be available when they needed it in order to overcome their enemies.
This fact was certain and reliable, that in the face of such peril, they would be victorious. God, the all sufficient One would be with them in battle. The Lord commanded Joshua not to tremble or be afraid. Why? Because God is greater than man. There is no army great enough to subdue the Lord. Interestingly, the words ‘fear not’ are recorded in the Bible 365 times and used more than 80 times in the context of this article’s subject.
Apostle Paul, who imitated the character of Christ, also saw the futility of being afraid of man. He was not a man-pleaser, nor was he afraid to stand in opposition of man. He wrote the following:
Galatians 1:10 - ‘For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.’
The line between serving God or serving man has been drawn throughout the ages. King David, a courageous man of God, also drew this same line before he experienced victory over a giant Philistine named Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:26 - ‘And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”’
Something within David rose up at the thought that these unclean men dared to defy the men of God. What gave David such great courage? David had a greater measure of faith than all of his peers, including his own brothers. What he didn’t have in stature, he made up for by faith.
We know from reading Psalms that David often reflected over the victories that God had given him before. A habit that appears to have begun in his youth. He had wrestled wild beasts before with God’s help, I am sure he was confident that he could wrestle this giant Philistine.
God gets the glory when He chooses to use the weaker vessels to overcome the proud. A strong man could take the credit for his own victories, but a weak man glorifies God in all that he does – a witness to everyone who comes across his path. Apostle Paul, having achieved much in the name of Christ, also boasted in his weaknesses (1 Corinthians 12:5, 9).
This quality is infectious. Men who stand bravely in the face of opposition inspire others to do the same. Those who walk with such men realise that God is present in our troubles. They see the inner workings of God’s strength on display. He is with us and the One who is with us is greater than he who is in the world.
Isaiah 41:10 - fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 51:7-8 – “…fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool, but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.”
2 Timothy 1:7 - ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’
Do men of courage experience fear?
Yes, they most certainly do. Fear is a natural instinct that kicks in. However, the One who created this natural instinct has given us the ability to overcome it with His supernatural strength. What separates the coward from the courageous is that the courageous overcome their fears by faith. Fear must give way to faith that rises up with us and in this faith, the strength to do all things is mustered up.
Cowards will not enter the Kingdom of God because they do not know the One who is able to help us overcome all things.
Revelation 21:8 - ‘But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’
What if I am caught up in a long-term battle?
If you find yourself caving under the pressure of the enemy’s schemes, I would like to remind you of verses like the following below. Be patient and wait upon the Lord. He will surely deliver you. Our hope is in the Lord alone, not in the chariots of men.
Psalm 31:24 - ‘Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!’
Zephaniah 3:17 - ‘The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Weakness of heart is a temptation, and like any temptation, it must be overcome. Due to the fact that we are in the end times, we should be aware that the Bible warns that the horrific events that will unfold will cause men’s hearts to fail within them (Luke 21:26). There is no time like the present to spend time with the Lord in order to overcome fear during troubling times ahead.
In such times of peril where our hearts may fail us, we can remember, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ Psalm 73:26.
Why is it important to be courageous?
Being courageous directly impacts our effectiveness in many areas of our life, including ministry to others. Weakness can endanger our success to fulfill the plan God has for us. Weakness could have prevented Joshua from taking the Promised Land, or David from overcoming the Philistines. Weakness today can hinder what God has planned for us tomorrow.
Courage to face today so that our tomorrow is firm, comes from the Lord. The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing strength to God’s beloved, right in their time of need. A man who has such strength, feels a sense of empowerment to face any challenge. A man who learns to walk by faith, learns to approach all obstacles in a state of preparedness, equilibrium (a sense of mental and emotional balance) and a consciousness that God has all matters at hand. He is well able to perform all responsibilities that God has entrusted him with.
A man or woman who admits that without God it’s impossible, is one who will receive the measure of grace they require in their time of lack.
C S Lewis wrote, ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.’
If you are facing a time of testing right now, the Lord says to you, ‘Be strong and courageous’.
If you feel encouraged by this article, then I invite you to read some other articles that we have written about this topic.
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-- By Judah Ayling
This article was written to form part of the series, 'Imitate'. Containing 45 sessions, this thorough series intends to reveal the characteristics found in a disciple of Jesus. The original article, 'Imitate', would be the best place to begin your journey in discovering the qualities of a follower of the Messiah of Israel.