By Larry Ray Halley
Some men make a career out of cowardice. Nowhere is this profession more pronounced than in politics and religion. John F. Kennedys Profiles in Courage is a monument to bravery of conviction in earthly spaces, while Noah, Jeremiah, and Paul are profiles in courage in heavenly places. But these are the extraordinary, the exceptions. Cowards lie in the dust of ignominious oblivion or in the yellowed pages of ignoble infamy, whereas the heroes of character and courage are forever enshrined and entombed in the bosom, of their countrymen.
Moral timidity is the worst form of cowardice. Fear on the battlefield is forgivable. Fainting and quaking before a physical enemy is understandable, but spiritual fear is without defense or excuse. Issues are knives that may lay bare a mans quivering heart. What a man is can be seen by his reaction to challenges of the precepts and principles he advocates. It matters not how lofty his rhetoric, how scornful his countenance, or how clenched his fist, a man is not a man who will not lay down his life, his fortune and his sacred honor for the cause in which he believes.
Therefore, many men are not men. They forsake the truth, and they forsake integrity. They forsake right, and they forsake the only true might. They forsake themselves who deny the position they believe to be just and pure and good. To refuse to contend and defend ones conscience is to impose self exile. There is neither greater dishonor nor more despicable shame than one who will not “earnestly contend” for the light be sees and the faith he believes.
Christians have no right to be afraid. Numbers and odds are not to be considered in the warfare of Christ. Goliath fell before David, and Midian fled before Gideon, “for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” (I Sam. 14:6).
Still, we find careening career cowards in Christ. They “stand” for modesty, but they will not name the “mini.” They loathe lasciviousness, but they will not reprove, rebuke, and exhort brethren who allow their children to dance. They are “for” worship in the Lords way on the Lords Day, but they will not cite, indict and convict those who pervert the pattern of sound words. They are for controversy and discussion, but they will bad mouth anyone who engages in debate where points are pressed and truth is preached to triumph in Christ. More and more we need less and less of such men.
Diplomacy and the mutual interchange of ideas and the exchange of philosophies have its place but only around a pence table. No such peace forum or conference table, however, should exist for the faithful soldiers of King Jesus. God has not called us to haggling, bargaining, or dickering, but to striving, warring, and wrestling. One does not “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers” by consorting with them in areas and avenues of agreement. Sheathing the sword is not the way to true unity or liberty. It is the path of least resistance to bondage and apostasy.
The career coward smiles much and bids God speed to error on every hand and front. His “love everyone” approach is a reproach and serves to make him the worst enemy a man in error could have. His so called love will leave the lost in error, lost in error. The best friend a man in error has is a man who takes the word of the Lord and corrects him with it (Jas. 5:19, 20).
Career cowards remain aloof from real fights and conflicts. They will jab from the third row and throw in thrusts that keep them respectable, but when the issues are on the firing line, these men are on the side line writing general agreement articles of confederation for enemy papers. In Athens, while Paul faced and fought the mockers and scoffers, the career coward brethren were writing historical treatises on idolatrys modes and forms for the Unknown God magazine.
Courage comes through Christ and the word of his power. In that word and by that power we take our stand, “and having done all,” we shall stand. The purity and peace of the church demands a militant offence and an adamant defense. Wavering compromise on the part of cowards will not deter us — let them be warned. The faith and our faith are fixed and anything contrary to sound doctrine will be shot on sight.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 44, pp. 12-13
September 14, 1972