This is the third post of a seven part series on manhood. The series is called Manspirations and the intent is to aim the spotlight of Scripture on the life of a man to determine how a man should live once redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)
Manly movies always feature courage as a theme. Braveheart, 300, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan inspire men to courage by watching courageous men. Boys seek courage. They build tall ramps from stolen scrap from construction sites (just me?) and climb tall trees. They jump of roofs. When they can drive, they drive their cars like they stole them. Some of this is just youthful recklessness, but it stems from a heart bent on facing fear, on courage.
To be useful to the world, a man must show courage. A man without courage is a half man, really just a male. But courage is not innate. It is not an inherited trait that you have or don’t – and that’s great news because we can cultivate it. And we must.
Here we look to the Consummate Man for a primer on courage. Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2) willingly. But it wasn’t as if He looked forward to it. It was heinous and painful, the nails and the spears and the alienation. As he prayed to His Father for another way – to take this cup from Him – He sweated blood. But then He went to the cross.
The Need is Great
Gender roles – and gender itself – is in question in our culture. It seems we want the right to twist and shape masculinity and femininity into whatever shapes fit our desires. But God did not leave that up to us. As our maker, He made us distinctly male and female with powerful virtues uniquely wired into our different roles.
Many vehemently disagree with this notion of divinely given gender, and thus it has become quite unpopular to assert traditional (nay, God-given) gender roles. Too rare is the household with a bold and loving man at its head to serve and lead the family. But there are many adult males out there. So where are the courageous men?
In his article titled Keep Speaking, Jon Bloom states:
This is not the time for Christian timidity. This is not the time for Christian silence. This is not the time for Christian retreat. This is a time for Christian boldness. It is a time to speak.
Amen. Speak we must. For a long while, America felt Christian. Statistics affirmed the faith of the nation. It wasn’t the “good old days” like many like to think, and we aren’t going back. The tide of culture has gone out from the church and it isn’t returning in the morning. But we men, by God's grace, can do something about it.
Men, we must speak up. Not shake our fist at a culture which doesn’t affirm Biblical values, but speak up and boldly advocate for the good of our neighbors. For the truth. And we must do so with a strength and tenderness, showing honor and respect to all. We must have the courage to stand up when it’s uncouth to assert the saving truth of the Gospel.
What Makes a Man Courageous?
All men want to be courageous. Courage is a universally lauded virtue among cultures. It is written about, whispered over camp fires, and exaggerated in family stories. We want to taste courage and get up close to it. It makes us feel alive.
Moses speaks the words of Deuteronomy 31 at 120 years old. He’s worn out and his fighting days are over. He addresses Israel, God’s people, and urges them to trust that God is faithful to His promises. He will come through and keep His word. He always does.
A man commits an act of courage when he is motivated by love. That was Jesus’ motive on Calvary. A man musters courage when his affections blaze and his heart burns. Until our hearts ache for our fellow man, we will remain timid and quiet. Our affections should be set upon Christ, and to Him we fix our eyes. But we must also think of it the other way around, that we must aim the hope of Christ at our affections.
How do we do this?
We preach the Gospel to ourselves, remembering our salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. We consider our eternal purchase. We read Scripture. We surround ourselves with men who we give permission to speak the blunt truth to us. Setting our coordinates on a love for Christ is a holistic strategy and we must lay our lives at His feet.
Brother, have no fear. God goes with you. You are called to be a courageous man and you are able to be courageous because Jesus went first. He purchased your eternal security. If death cannot hold us, life cannot terrify us.
But still we fear. I know I do. But you know what’s fun? To find terrifying opportunities to do something that matters. Maybe that’s engage a wayward friend who needs the bitter truth followed by the sweet Gospel. Maybe that’s engaging your wife intimately instead of pursuing alternative means of pleasure. It could be as safe as speaking in public or as dangerous as diving in front of a car for someone. The point here is to depend on God and, motivated by His love, move through fear to action.
I trust that you will cultivate your courage. And when you do, remember you aren’t the hero. Jesus is the hero.
Allow me to correct myself on one thing. We don’t inherit bravery from our parents, but when are adopted as sons of God our DNA changes. We are reborn. And I am convinced that part of our sonship is the gift of courage. We look to Jesus and see what it looks like and the Spirit wells up the ability to choose loving action in the face of fear.