TEXTS: GENESIS 12: 1-9, LUKE 15:11-32
According Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English, fifth edition, the word “courage” means “the quality of being brave when you are facing a difficult situation or when you are very ill”. “Obedience” according to the same dictionary, means “when someone does what they are told to do, or what a law, rule etc says they must do”. A clear understanding of these two keywords would enable a better insight into the topic for discussion.
Usually, the world in which we live is full of challenges and difficult situations. As such, in any endeavor of life, particularly legitimate ones, a lot of factors would come into place if one is to make any form of headway. For instance, if one is to undertake a journey, a very long one at that, he would need a number of provisions in order not to get stranded on the way. He would, for instance, need money, food, extra clothes, footwear(s), water, drugs (depending on the state of health), documents, and others , as the case may be . Under normal circumstances, these must be provided for. Yet, unforeseen circumstances may arise which may change the whole turn of events.
As followers of Christ, the Scriptures teach in clear terms that we are pilgrims on the earth Hebrews 11: 13; 1 Peter 2: 11. In other words, we are undertaking a journey as long as we remain on this earth. The journey itself is a very long one. It lasts for one’s lifetime. By implication, a lot of things are needed if we are not to get stranded in our lives’ journey. For instance, we need good health, wisdom, knowledge, money, faith, love, hard work, patience, peace, joy, among several other things. Each of these has very important roles to play in life, such that failure to possess any of them would mean that one would certainly lose out on some of life’s blessings. Life’s journey would suffer some handicaps, thus leaving the individual at the mercy certain elements.
One of the critical qualities needed in life, but which has not been mentioned above, is courage. Life is full of prospects and challenges. As the prospects beckon, so do the challenges rear their heads to serve as obstacles. It is extremely rear to access life’s opportunities without encountering challenges. Some of these challenges could be quit daunting. This is where courage becomes relevant. Without courage, some of life’s opportunities would remain un accessed. This fact becomes even more glaring when it comes to obeying God’s word in a world that does not know Him and as such does not reckon with Him. So crucial is courage in obeying God that one of the first words by God to Joshua, after he assumed leadership from Moses, was to be courageous Joshua 1:6,7,9. This admonition is repeated thrice in just four verses. Similarly, after king Asa assumed leadership, the Spirit of the Lord, through Prophet Azariah, encouraged him to be strong, which has strong which has strong relationship with courage 2 Chronicles15:7.
Courage does not necessarily mean absence of fear. It may mean taking bold step in spite of apparent fear. In our texts, courage was clearly in display. In Genesis 12, Abram took courageous steps when he decided to obey God to leave his kindred, city and country to another place where he would receive his inheritance without knowing where he was going. It required a lot of courage to do so. Literally, Abram let go of a bird in hand in pursuit of the proverbial two in the bush. In human terms, Abram’s actions in obeying the command were unwise. His courageous steps, however, paid off handsomely. He walked into his eternal possession, which is still speaking till now. This is an important lesson for those who lay claim to being the offspring of Abraham.
Similarly, the prodigal son, in Luke 15: 11 – 32, took courageous steps in obeying the voice that encouraged him to return home to his father, even when he was unsure of what the reaction of his father would be. The prodigal son still had his fears on his way home concerning the manner of his reception. his father could be out rightly hostile, lukewarm, indifferent or might need series of negotiations to consider receiving back his son. In spite of his apprehension, he still continued with his steps home. His courage paid off. He got the kind of reception that he never imagined. He secured a change of status and got re-instated into his original royal position. That singular act of courage changed him from a stranger in a foreign country to a free born in his own country; from hunger and starvation to plenty; from a slave to a beloved son; from an employee to an employer; from a position of weakness to that of strength; from a commoner to a royalty among others.
Numerous other examples are found in the scriptures. In Daniel 3, Shedrack, Mishach and Abednego defied the despot, Nebuchadnezzar, in order to affirm loyalty to the only true God. They brought this knowledge of the almighty to the fore and got promoted in the kingdom of Babylon, a foreign land. Noah took the courageous steps to build an ark, in obedience to God, and saved himself and his entire family from the unprecedented deluge of his time. Before this time, no one knew anything about rainfall, much less of a flood that could destroy the whole world. David took steps of courage, with a catapult and slings of stone, to defeat and kill Goliath of Gath. He secured a resounding victory for Israel and set the stage for his ascension to the throne. Daniel displayed tremendous courage and opted to be thrown to the lions than to compromise his convictions. He secured an unprecedented deliverance and further consolidated his high position in the empire.
The import of the foregoing is obvious. It takes a lot of gut to be courageous. Yet, acts of courage could be immensely rewarding. Courage involves risks. but what is life without risks? It is also obvious that there are certain prospects, opportunities, and blessings that we may never access without displaying courage. Opportunities are often defined by the kind of challenges attached to them. The greater the opportunities, the higher the stakes or challenges. No doubt, there are many blessings attached to obeying God. However, it takes a lot of courage to obey a lot of them as well, including the accessing of the resultant blessings. The choice remains essentially personal. What you bargain for is what you may invariably get.
However, courage is not reserved for a select few. As children of God, God has made adequate provisions to enable us to have courage and thus access His promises. The word of God, prayer, fellowship and the Holy Spirit among others, are avenues of getting courage. His promise of abiding presence is invaluable Matt 28: 20b. Child of God, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but that of love and sound mind 2 Timothy 1: 7. The same admonition to Joshua in Joshua chapter one remains true for all time for God’s children. Courage should be a lifestyle for the Christian, not an occasional matter. The one who is in us is greater than anything whatever in this difficult and challenging world. We are programmed victors, not losers. Be courageous and take delivery of your God-given inheritance in this life and the hereafter. It is well.