Courage is defined as "the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful instead of withdrawing from it" (Webster).
What picture does the word bring to mindthe firefighter preparing to enter a burning building or perhaps soldiers ready to go to battle for their country?
When we apply this attitude to our life as a Christian, we have to also consider the cousins of courage encourage and discourage, the black sheep of the family.
Encourage is defined: to give courage, help, hope, confidence (Webster). Discourage: to deprive of courage, hope confidence; raise obstacles or objections (Webster).
Consider some of the Bible characters and their need for courage.
It took courage for David to face Goliath in battle. His brothers and King Saul discouraged him because of his youth and inexperience. But David was encouraged by knowing that he "came against you (Goliath) in the name of the Lord Almighty" (1 Sam. 17:45).
Noah needed all his courage to continue building a large boat as God had commanded him in the face of discouraging words from the wicked world in which he lived. However, God had told him of his plan to destroy mankind by a flood and this knowledge encouraged Noah to not only continue working on the boat that would save his family but to at-tempt to teach his neighbors about God.
When her people were threatened with destruction, Queen Esther was encouraged by Mordecai to appeal to the king, asking him to reverse his order to annihilate the Jews. She had courage and went to the king, even though the thought that he could have her put to death for approaching him without being summoned (Esth. 4:11) could have discouraged her. As a result of her courage, her people were saved.
Read about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 and 6. They were all men of courage.
Today it requires much courage to become a Christian and continue to live as one in this world of sin. Those you work with and even some of your own family members may make discouraging remarks because you do not live as you formerly did. The encouragement to continue on your road to heaven will come from God's word and from his congregation. Stay close to them.
When a man desires the office of an elder, will he find encouragement or be discouraged by those around him? A man will need a stockpile of courage to fulfill his responsibility as an elder.
It takes a wealth of courage for a young Christian to lead his first song or present his first lesson before the congregation. Do not discourage him with negative re-marks, but encourage him to continue his public service to God.
Have you thought about a preacher needing courage to get into the pulpit every Sunday and looking out at an audience of often inattentive, drowsy listeners? Does he see encouragement in their eyes? Or does he know that there will be faultfinding after the sermon? Preachers need much encouragement and not situations that would be discouraging. He (and God too) can get very discouraged by the negative attitude of a congregation.
Have you ever tried to teach a class but all you heard was a "discouraging word"? Courage must prevail if you are going to continue to teach and guide young minds in the right way. Encourage the teachers to not give up.
If you are having problems within your marriage, your worldly friends may encourage you to divorce your mate and discourage any attempt to stay married. Strength and courage are needed to mend broken promises.
Courage is found within your own self and encouragement to live right comes from God's word and other Christians. The world will encourage you alright, but only to sin. The world will also discourage your attending services and living as you know you should. The friends you make in the church will discourage you also, but from going back into the world.
Always have the courage of your convictions "the courage to do what one thinks is right" (Webster). Just be certain that your convictions are guided by the word of God and your example is one of courage.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 17 p. 9-10