By Kelton Whaley
The above words spoken by Jesus to His disciples (Mt. 26:46) serve well to bolster up our courage and zeal in the Lord’s work today in the face of criticism from within and worldliness from without. Our Savior, undismayed and uncomplaining, went steadily “about His Father’s a business” (Lk. 2:49). When He went into the garden seeking peace in prayer, His enemies came with swords and staves and led Him away to a hall of false justice.
In the face of mockery He was kind, gentle and loving. They took Him away as a sheep to the slaughter, and drenched Calvary with His precious blood. No evil power on earth could deter Him from doing His father’s will (Heb. 10:7).
During His personal ministry, His course was one never free from trouble and criticism. In the wilderness, He was tempted of the devil. In the synagogue when He taught, His hearers became angry and threatened His life. Yet, our Savior could overcome all the opposition of the world and could continue to go about doing good through faith and courage. He was never dismayed as we sometimes become in our work for Him.
Courage has been defined as “fighting with the handle after the sword has been broken.” Courage is that quality of heart which enables the Christian to meet danger and all opposition with Christ-like firmness and resolve without fear.
When the Israelites were about to do battle against the Syrians and the Ammonites, Joab said, “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the Lord do that which seemeth Him good” (2 Sam. 10:12). This is a ringing exhortation and challenge to God’s army today. One of the great needs of the church today is courage – courage to live faithfully, courage to preach the truth to saint and sinner alike, courage on the part of each child of God to support preachers who stand solidly for the Truth, courage to be a faithful, militant soldier of Christ and not a belligerent, arrogant “defender of the faith” but to always be “set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). Peter admonishes us to “add to our faith virtue” (courage, 2 Pet. 1:5). We must be of “good” courage.
Courage will bolster up enthusiasm. Emerson said, “Nothing very great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” A wonderful example of enthusiasm, or zeal, is recorded in 2 Chronicles 29:15, where we-read of Hezekiah beginning his reign over God’s people. The plight of the people was pathetic, but Hezekiah didn’t spend his time bemoaning the fact. He began with zeal to “do that which was right in the sight of God.” In his very first year he opened the doors of the house of the Lord, repaired them and brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together in the East Street. Then he said unto them, “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” The great work was accomplished and worship to God was restored. Hezekiah and the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people: for the thing was “done suddenly” (2 Chron. 29:36).
Such enthusiasm as that shown by Christ, Hezekiah, and the people, tramples underfoot opposition, prejudice and any and all other obstacles standing in the way of God’s army today. In view of that fact, we should be as all-out for Christ and righteousness as the world is for the devil and sin. How many preachers, elders, deacons and other Christians and congregations are causing such consternation among the forces of ungodliness that we are making the devil sit up late at night to plan countermeasures? It is true that some of our erstwhile brethren are building “million dollar launch pads,” but are sending up “firecrackers” of social gospel. Not much “old time religion” is being “exploded” by such efforts and antics. Some of us are doing very little to convert sinners. A Christian is not “normal” if he is not enthusiastic about being a child of God. We read in Romans 12:11 that the Christian is to be “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” To be “fervent in spirit” simply means to be “on fire with the spirit,” or “boiling, seething with the spirit” in serving the Lord.
Prayerful meditation of the greatness of the stewardship we have received of our Lord will generate such enthusiasm within us until we, as the army of the Lord, will stand (but not stand still) and with a great shout echo the words of our Great Commander, “Rise, let us be going.”
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 5, p. 153
March 1, 1984