Manhood: Courage

We’ve been exploring “manhood” for a few weeks now, and today we’ll wrap that up by a quick reflection on courage. We’ve explored Self-controlProtection, and Leadership. This has been very helpful for me to reflect on and record some thoughts as I work toward being a better man by Holy Spirit’s help and as I raise 3 boys to be what I call GAM. If you know what that means, then don’t judge me. If you don’t, well….leave well enough alone.

I don’t deny that “womanhood” is a vital topic, but since I’m not a woman and since I don’t have girls to raise, then I’m a little unprepared to write on that topic. Perhaps, I should invite my amazing wife, Jennifer, to write some guest posts on “womanhood”. Hey, great idea! That way we don’t neglect the other half of created image bearers.

Also, ladies, God has put me in a theological cave for a while on a specific issue. I think we have not made enough sense out of your fantastic gifting and leading and communicating. I’m working on letting Scripture and not my tradition, tribe and context teach me. Just know we see you and see your excellence. More later.

Men, courage. Courage is vital to manhood. Courage is not the absence of fear. In fact all people everywhere have fears. All people everywhere experience fear. No one can ever say they’ve not experienced fear. The question is not regarding fear. The question is how do we handle fear. Do we let fear handle us or do we handle fear?

A good way to define courage from a Christian worldview is this: fearing God more than anything else. Courage, for us, can be said to be the fear of God over anything.

Some may bristle at the “fear of God” because it casts a shadow on the image of God they’ve created in their own image. I’d argue that this is because we have allowed scary movies to redefine fear with a definition more appropriate for horror. Fear is not horror. Fear is not terror. Fear is fear. Fear means to have “…a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience.” (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)

When our aim is to be in awe of, and express a reverence for God that comes from a just view and real love for God himself, we can’t imagine shunning, offending or doing anything remotely resembling disobeying God.

When we fear God like that, the fear of other things melts like snow into the ground when the warm rays of the sun hit it on a post-snow day in the south. In other words, fear of God causes the fear of other things to go away. With fear of other things gone, we can now display “courage” in the face of anything thrown at us.

Why can we be courageous if we fear God over everything else? Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus…the one to whom all these others point. We can name others in Christian history like Muller, Bonhoeffer, Carmichael. This is just a few of hundreds of thousands of whom are unnamed except to Jesus who knows them by name.

We can be courageous because whether in life or death we have one who holds both, and our entrance into either, in his hand and means to do nothing  but good to us in perfect love. God proved this by putting Jesus on the cross and taking the punishment of my sin out on him so that if I repent and believe I get what Jesus deserved in exchange for him getting what I deserved. How can God now do anything but good to me? How can I not fear that? Why should I fear anything else? What has anything or anyone else done for me like that so as to fear it/them?

Do you see? Almost magically, courage arises from this truth. Whom shall I fear other than God?

Psalms 34:7 (ESV) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

He will either deliver me into his eternal presence in the intermediate state or he’ll crush those things that come against me. Either way, I win and God is glorified. No reason to fear.

I’d rather face death in the hard places than to lay prostrate before the Lamb who was slain and risen and say I didn’t go or do because I feared men or governments over him and his ability to raise me up like he was raised up. I’d rather die than have to do that. I’d rather be raised up like he was than have to be forced to bow.

There is just something healthy about a biblical fear of God that births courage. It’s magical.

So, men, if you want courage, don’t go after it with macho gusto. That’s fake. Macho men have been known to cower like babies when bullets start flying. Macho is worthless if that macho is not bathed in God-fearing courage.

In Christ, we have died already, so we are no longer our own but Christ’s. It’s a reality for us. Since we are already dead, why fear anything? Galatians 2:20 is so right on. I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live. I’ve died with Christ. He lives in me and through me.

Therefore, even my fear of God is a gracious out working of Jesus in me.

So, fear God and courage will spring forth as a gracious act of God so that you get the joy and he gets the glory.

That’ll work for ladies too. As a side note men, some of our ladies are more courageous and tougher than us emotionally and physically. So, yeah, take that and do something with it maybe.

Gauntlet thrown down!


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