Teaching Values: Courage

by Jeff Asher

Webster defines courage as "the quality or state of mind or spirit enabling one to face danger or hardship with confidence or resolution: the ability to disregard fear: bravery, boldness, intrepidity, valor, fearlessness." In the Bible courage is confidence or assurance in speech (Acts 4:12, 29, 31), virtue, moral excellence, manliness, valor (2 Peter 1:3, 5; Philippians 4:3), the courage of one's convictions (2 Chronicles 15:8), fearlessness (Hebrews 13:6).

Bible Examples

There are numerous examples of the exhibition of courage to be found in the Bible. Abraham manifested courage when he left Ur of the Chaldees and came to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-6; 15:1; Acts 7:1-8). Jacob demonstrated courage when as an old man he went into Egypt to obtain God's promise (Genesis 46:3). Moses' mother, Jochebed was fearless when she hid her son for three months and then put him into the River Nile (Hebrews 11:23). Moses showed not a faint heart when he resisted Pharaoh and his magicians and led Israel out of bondage (Hebrews 11:27). And, as the Hebrew writer said, "time would fail me to tell" of all the rest who through faith and courage obtained "a good report" (Hebrews 11:32, 39).

In addition to these numerous examples from the ancient men of faith, there is the supreme example of Jesus Christ who "despised the shame" of the cross and endured "opposition from sinners" leaving us an example so we will "not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Bible Truths Concerning Courage

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Roosevelt knew that fear is what holds us back in meeting any enemy, whether it was the Depression or the Axis powers. Boldness is rooted in confidence.

The believer has nothing to fear because he is confident through his God. Paul wrote: "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Matthew 10:28). So long as God is our Helper there is nothing that man may do to us that He cannot over rule to our good (Romans 8:28).

When Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water, Peter asked the Lord to call him unto Himself (Matthew 14:27-31). Jesus did, and Peter walked on the water. That is, until he took his eyes off of Christ and focused on the wind and the waves. At that moment, Peter began to sink. Jesus caught him by the hand and asked, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Peter became afraid because he lost his confidence in Christ. Brother and sister we can "walk on the water" so long as we remain confident that we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

This does not mean we will never suffer. When Paul affirmed he could "do all things" he had just admitted there were times when he was hungry. Paul was confident that everything would turn out for his good; however, he was not so certain that it would be good (II Timothy 4:6). The confident believer looks even death in face with calmness and assurance (Ephesians 3:12-13).

Another Example on Point

When the three Hebrews were facing the decision of either bowing to the golden image or being cast into the fiery furnace, courage is what carried them through. Their decision reflects the reality that boldness does not depend upon a deliverance from every hardship or evil experience. When the king demanded a choice this was their reply: "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (Daniel 3:16-18). They understood they might not come out alive, but they would come out well.

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Brave

Give them love. Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). When small children are sure of the love of their parents and siblings then they are confident that they can meet the trials of daily life. They know that Mom and Dad, Big Brother and Sis are backing them up. That experience learned young in life translates into a powerful faith as an adult. When we are loved by God and love Him, then we lose our fears because we know there is nothing that will cause him to forsake us.

Give them heroes. Especially in this day and age, youth need real examples of men of courage. Teach your children about the great heroes of the faith in the Bible (Romans 15:4). But, also, point them to men who today walk bravely through life serving God (Philippians 3:17). There are many fine saints who have a story o share with a young person.

Be courageous. However, the best heroes they could want are two courageous parents. You need to set the example. We all know that the example of others helps us (II Timothy 1:7-9). Therefore, children need to see their parents making the sometimes difficult decisions to do the right thing. Help them understand the costs and sacrifices that are involved in wearing the name of Christ (I Peter 3:14-18).

Share your experience. Paul was not reluctant to let brethren know how he was suffering (Colossians 4:18; I Corinthians 15:32). As a matter of fact, the knowledge of what was happening to him helped others endure as well (Hebrews 10:32-39; Philippians 1:13, 14). You can build confidence toward God in young people by letting them know how you and others that have influenced you, have stood fast when trials have come.

Give encouragement. When your child is going through the tough times do not stand idly by on the sidelines (Isaiah 41:6). Encourage him, counsel him and, if need be, help him. Let him know you are there if he needs you. Pray for him and enlist the prayers of others for him. Even Moses had Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands (Exodus 17:10-12).