By Bill Hall
How thankful we should be for wonderful examples of courage that spur us on to greater strength in the Lord’s service.
Paul was just such an example: “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:14). These brethren, formerly timid and reticent, were drawing strength from the courage of Paul.
Other examples abound. Stephen’s plea, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” surely had for its source of strength the forgiving spirit of the Lord (Acts 7:60). The Thessalonian church found a source of strength in the example of the churches in Judea (1 Thess. 2:14). The Philippian church, a model of courage and conviction, could no doubt trace much of its strength back to the wonderful example of patience and equanimity demonstrated by Paul and Silas while in their midst. The Hebrew Christians were admonished to “remember them that had the rule over you, men that spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7).
Christians of this generation are similarly drawing strength from the courage of others. Young men who refuse to miss
services of the church to play on a ball team; young women who refuse to be seen in public in scanty attire; businessmen who would lose their jobs rather than compromise their convictions; women who continue to adorn themselves in “meek and quiet spirits” whatever the sophisticated world thinks or says of them; sick people who bear their afflictions with patience and faith; elderly people who continue to attend worship when they are hardly able to go anywhere else; dying people who demonstrate how Christians ought to die; all are sources of strength and courage for others as they face similar circumstances. These all share a common spirit with the great characters of the Bible: they see in their temptations, trials, afflictions, and persecutions a special opportunity to be like Christ, to demonstrate their fidelity to Him, and to provide a source of strength for those who might be weak and wavering around them. They seize the opportunity and stand, and all of us are stronger because of them. Of these courageous people this world truly is not worthy.
Are we, however, to be always on the receiving end of the strength of others? As we draw strength from the courage of others, we must in turn become sources of strength and courage. Others look to us. Each of us has a “charge to keep,” and “God to glorify,” a present age to serve,” and in the words of Charles Wesley we seek God’s assistance:
Help me to watch and pray
And on Thyself rely;
Assured if I my trust betray
I shall forever die.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 17, p. 520
September 5, 1985