We cannot get through life without being afraid. Each one of us is afraid of something, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fear can stop us from doing stupid things which endanger our lives or the lives of those around us. Yet, there are times in our lives that fear holds us back from doing the very thing that needs to be done, and in those moments we need to have courage.
Courage is not about living a life of no fear, but it is committing to do what needs to be done regardless of the consequences. As Christians we need courage because time and time again Satan will use fear to keep us from doing those things that Christ has called us to do.
So we do we get courage? As we look at Acts 4:5-22, which is the recorded experience of Peter and John, we notice two ingredients we need if we are going to walk with courage. Last time we examined the fact that we need to spend time with Jesus. The Sanhedrin noticed that Peter and John were not only men of boldness, but also men who had been with Jesus.
The second ingredient we need is that we need to have a grand purpose. Acts 4:19 and 20 reads, But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (ESV).
John Eldredge in Wild at Heart wrote, “Above all else, a warrior has a vision, he has a transcendence to his life, a cause greater than self-preservation.” (p. 142)
Peter and John had a reason to live. More importantly they had a reason to die. That is why many of us fail to have courage in the key moments of our lives. Yes, we understand that there is a purpose to live: we have our families, perhaps an important job, or we have a service or ministry we see as vital. Because we have a reason to live, we are reluctant to face a situation that might, in any way, damage that life we have. Peter and John had courage because they realized that death was not the end, there was something greater than their lives.
The courage of Peter and John came from having a purpose. Not just any purpose, but a grand purpose. It was given to them by Jesus, and it had already changed their lives. These two disciples were excited about this purpose, and they had to tell people about, regardless of the cost.
It is sad that our purposes in life are so small. They are not grand and often they don’t make us excited. Yeah, they bring a little joy into our lives and they add a little meaning to our existence, but not enough to get excited about. Ron Luce said; “Until we find a cause worth dying for, we’re not really living.” (p. 60; 40 Days With God) It is impossible to show courage when you are not willing to die for the cause. A life lived in fear is not living, it is merely existing. When we discover something that is more important than our lives, that is when we can finally get to living.
That grand purpose in the lives of Christians is to tell others about God’s great love; And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16; NKJV). We do this because of the difference the Gospel has made in our lives, because we are free from sin, and have the hope of Heaven. Because we are excited of our salvation we want others to know about it. When the reality of salvation hits us, we will be too excited to be kept quiet.