Updated: Nov 11, 2022
“Courage is knowing it might hurt, and doing it anyway. Stupidity is the same. And that’s why life is hard.” – Jeremy Goldberg
I read this quote recently and thought while funny, it didn’t exactly get it right. I decided to change it this week to be accurate.
“Courage is knowing doing the right thing will hurt, and doing it anyway. Stupidity is knowing doing the wrong thing might hurt, and doing it anyway.”
Often the decision of whether something is courageous or stupid becomes subjective to an audience who assesses the outcome from afar. The person making the decision is usually so wrapped up in the pain it can be hard to tell which way is up, let alone to explain why. The key difference between stupidity and courage is your WHY.
I found that the extremes of either end are very rare. It is rare you see someone unarmed either courageous or stupid enough to charge someone with a loaded gun. It is rare to see someone jump in front of a speeding car or run toward a bear. If I said the story included a drunk person, the assumption is stupid. A drunk person jumped in front of a car or charged a bear, and you’d say, “Here is your sign.” However, if I told you the story was about a mother and her child then courage becomes everyone’s first assumption. The mother showed courage in saving her child from a gun, car, or bear. Why the person ran towards the danger matters.
Did you run into the burning building to save your Xbox or Grandma?
The audience very rarely grasps the why from the beginning. For Christians, this is an occupational hazard. Closing your store on Sundays? The world will tell you that is stupidity. Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby will tell you that it is courageous. Giving away more than 10-20% of your income? The world says stupid, the Bible calls it tithes and offerings. Starting to get the picture? Every missionary to ever go into a closed-off foreign land to be the one and only gospel witness followed a trajectory that the world read as stupidity. To the world, it will always appear stupid to follow Christ. The only thing He promised his followers on this Earth was we would not be alone in our pain and persecution suffered for His namesake. There are no promises of wealth, health, or happiness. Then WHY? It is a 3 word answer.
It is right.
Let that sink in for a moment. Not – It is mine. It is easy. It is fun. It is profitable. It is right.
When was the last time you knew deep down in your bones something was going to hurt but the Spirit inside of you spoke softly saying, “You know what the right thing is to do.”
We are prone to, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
I personally don’t think it is the inability to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit inside of Christians that keeps the courage to do right such a rare sight.
I believe it is FEAR.
Fear kept the children of Israel from fighting Goliath.
“And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.” I Samuel 17:24
Fear led Peter to deny Christ 3x the same night he proclaimed his undying loyalty.
“And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75
Satan used 10 spies to spread fear throughout an entire nation even though they literally fed on daily miracles from God. One mention of giants in the land and brave men of Israel completely forgot God and called for new leadership instead of fighting!
“And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron:…And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” Numbers 14:1,2a,4
Fear makes good people do crazy things. Fear is such a powerful emotion it often makes people think irrationally. A fear of spiders leads to a house burning down. Fear of failing a test leads to cheating. Fear of death makes people forgo living. I’ve watched fear lead good people into disobedience, rebellion, theft, and silence. The silence has always echoed loudest for me.
I read the book Dune for the first time in elementary school. I didn’t understand all the political rhetoric at that age, but one thing did resound in me. The fear mantra:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn…to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
We took a good look at what it means to have a “sound mind” last week. I want to take a moment to toe the line against the spirit of fear. Dune says that fear is the mind-killer. I tell you that it is the heart killer. Satan casts fear to discourage the faith it takes to follow Christ. Fear and faith will always be at war with each other. Who is winning in your life?
Fear can come from what we see. David saw a giant. Fear can come from what we hear. The Israelites heard of giants and massive city strongholds. Fear can come from the previous experience and knowledge of a man or situation. Nebuchadnezzar wielded his reputation to incite fear of the fire to control thousands into compliance.
Fear of the consequences makes people doubt the value of their why. If your why isn’t part of the core of who you are, fear will win. Time and time again we can see obedience and faith in God’s word win the fight against fear.
Samuel 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him [Goliath]; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. Numbers 14: 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went;
Daniel 3: 17-18 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.
Each man in these stories risked pain and failure. Doing what was right was not popular. They often stood alone. Doing what was Biblical risked pain. Doing right took courage. Undeniably obedience to God was core to who they were. Fear didn’t have a chance. They knew their why. Their victories never once came from taking matters into their own hands. Following God required them to fight the fear wielded by others. Every single one of them fought fear and won with faith in God.
One of the traits I’ve found of great leaders is they do not wield fear. Their leadership style almost always combats fear. When someone begins motivating others or choosing a path based on fear of something it causes me to immediately pause. I make sure to turn and face the spirit of fear head-on, so it doesn’t sneak up behind me or worse, within me. If you close your store on Sunday, you will lose money and be forced to close. If you go overseas to a third-world country to share the gospel you could get attacked or sick and die. If you protest injustice, you will be boycotted. When someone hinders you from doing right by making you fear the consequences, square up, that is a spirit of fear attacking.
Ephesians 6: 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The Holy Spirit IN us means we do not have to fear obedience to God’s will. Obedience is still better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). Put your faith in God to show himself and fight the battle instead of you. Fear will come. Let it pass over or through you, but never let it take root and grow. Face fear, yours or others’, with faith. Courage knows that the Why of following Christ is right. Courage knows that pruning brings forth more fruit. Courage trusts the master potter or smith to remove impurities. The Holy Spirit within us means that He is not done working on us. Courage knows the battle is the Lord's.
My assurance is that although God does not change, I still can.
I must not fear to do right. The Holy Spirit inside of me and the Bible in front of me means I know sin when it comes before me. I must not fear to do right. We were designed to be a peculiar people. I must not fear to do right.
II Corinthians 4 16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;