At the heart of the word “courage” are ideas of boldness, fortitude and resolve. These three closely related words together provide a robust understanding of courage. Boldness is the confidence to take a risk – initial courage. Fortitude is the firmness of the mind without retreat – sustaining courage. Resolve is the determination to reach the end goal – persevering courage.
Courage is often expressed in word pictures of battle, conflict or crisis (insert a William Wallace freedom cry here) so that a “courageous” person will face an opponent even if victory looks bleak. But what about the courage to speak truth in love though it may cut to the heart (Acts 2:37; John 6:60)? It requires courage to call out friends for living lives that do not resemble the faith they profess.
When lacking the courage to speak plainly and with conviction, we often say nothing, call it mercy and let the opportunity pass. Passivity counterfeits for patience. Cowardice masquerades as grace.
Instead of recognizing that our fear of man cripples us to silence, we convince ourselves that we are gracious people. But the problem is that leaving someone in sin is not grace or love; it is consent, indifference and, quite honestly, unloving.
Grace is frequently misunderstood to mean overlooking wrong, when true grace could not be further removed from this misconception. Grace is not rejecting someone when they sin or overlooking sin in a person’s life. It’s having the courage of conviction to call someone out when they sin and to do so in love. Grace is a commitment to bring to light what is in darkness (1 John 1:5-10).
There have been many times in the past where I have overlooked sin in a brother and called it grace. Instead of leading them out of sin, I let them stay in their sin, which corrupts and decays. This is not an act of love but an act of cowardice.
Genuine grace transforms. True grace never overlooks. It is remarkable, and when you see it, you know it. Grace never leaves you the same.
If we quench the voice of the Spirit long enough, we can become numb to His leadings and thereby render our selves useless to our brothers and sisters in the church. We must regain our sense of conviction and be bold, strong and resolved to stand courageously with other believers when we see sin in their lives (Heb. 3:13). This is true love.
It is time to leave coward ways behind and become mature men and women marked by conviction and courage. Are we willing to be bold and initiate conversations with our brothers and sisters who are not living out the faith they profess? Are we willing to show fortitude and to pursue those who are unwilling to change? Are we committed to not letting one in the flock go astray?
After the infamous fratricide in Genesis 4, the Lord comes to Cain asking where his brother is. Cain projects his guilt in his response to the Lord: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The reality is this: He was his brother’s keeper. And I am my brother’s keeper. You are your brother’s keeper. You are your sister’s keeper. We are to look after one another, speaking truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We are to shine the light of Christ into the dark places, especially if that dark place is your brother or sister.
Scriptures for Further Reading
- 1 Samuel 15:1-35 (Samuel and Saul)
- 2 Samuel 12:1-31 (Nathan Rebukes David)
- Ephesians 4:25
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14-15
- Galatians 6:1-2
- Hebrews 3:7-15
- Hebrews 10:24
- James 5:16
- 2 Corinthians 7:1-13