Saturday, July 13, 2013

OnFire #303 Reflections on Courage

We continue to look at the “Himalayas of the human condition” in Romans 12:9-21. These verses are the high peaks of character transformation.

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (9-10)*

Love is more than a feeling. It is active, and looks out for other people. It does all it can to stop evil from coming upon the other person.

One of my great lessons in this happened at a ball game with our youth group in Boston. When we arrived to take our seats at the Green Monster wall, we found that some of our seats were taken. Since there were other seats available just across the aisle, we encouraged the youth to take what seats they could. The game wasn’t a sell-out and so this was not a problem, but our group was not sitting together as we had originally planned.

As the leader, I evaluated things. I was worried about creating a confrontation in a strange city, and while the arrangement was not ideal, it was not bad either. I elected to leave things as they were.
One of my youth leaders, however, a young university student, took it upon herself to gather the tickets from the affected youth. She walked over to the people sitting in our seats, showed them our tickets, and moved them. It was an amazing piece of work. It was brave and just, and I learned a lot that day about taking courage to stand up for others.

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (9-10)*

To hate evil and cling to what is good means we need to overcome our own inertia. To do something means we have to change what we were planning to do. Hey, let’s face it, it is usually easier not to get involved. But being devoted to one another is about putting ourselves aside.

We must face our fears for what might happen as we stand against evil intention. It has been said that courage is not the lack of fear, but rather action despite fear. We feared the unknown which a confrontation might bring, but my youth leader took courage anyway.

It takes determination: “I will NOT let this thing happen. I WILL do everything I can.” This is hating evil and clinging to the good.

This is an area where stereotypical markers of courage do not matter. We think of size, strength, age, and position as advantages, but they are not necessary. I have seen some really big guys who lacked moral courage, and some pretty tiny ladies who could make a king cringe. As I write, Nelson Mandela lies in a hospital bed in South Africa. For many years he led people against the forces of apartheid from a prison cell.

Some lessons are hard. I was ashamed of my inaction that day, but what a lesson it was. Better to learn from a mistake than not to learn at all. And perhaps, I hope, I am putting the lesson into practice each day.

I hope this helps. Be on fire. Let us take courage and act, even when we are afraid.

OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published June 27, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. * New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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