Courage in a Nation Full of Idols
One of the great needs for the people of God in this day and age is courage—the willingness to pull your shoulders back, proclaim truth—standing squarely on the Word of God—and not be cowed by the opinions of others.
We see an example of such courage, albeit a very imperfect one, with Gideon.
When the nation of Israel was oppressed by the Midianites, they cried out to God for deliverance. God heard their cry and raised up a man named Gideon to save his people. But the first thing God called Gideon to do was not to fight against Midian, but was to walk in practical acts of repentance. Israel was devoted to worshipping the false god Baal, and so God called Gideon to hitch up his tractor, as it were, pull down the Baal and the Asherah poles, and offer a bull to the LORD as a sacrifice for sin.
Gideon knew that attacking the gods would cause an uproar. He was afraid; he wasn’t willing to do this during the day. But, and here’s the important point, he was willing to do it. So he gathered his servants at night and was busy pulling down false gods and making them into a big bonfire.
The townspeople were furious. They demanded of Gideon’s father, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it” (Judges 6:30).
What’s striking with this response is that this is the people of God, not their pagan neighbors. And yet they are far more concerned with Baal’s honor than with God’s honor. They are far more concerned that their impotent gods had been torn down than that false worship was happening in the first place. They cared more about what the respectable people in society thought than with what God thought.
Gideon was a weak man, but he was willing to walk in obedience to God, even if that meant the threat of being killed by his own townspeople.
Scripture again and again tells us that it is the righteous who are bold.
Proverbs 28:1—“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Courage is not a personality trait; it is a character trait. Introverted people can be bold, just as extroverted people can be cowardly. Why? It is because it is the righteous who are bold, and they are bold because they fear the Lord.
Proverbs 14:26—“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”
If we are to grow in courage, then we must grow in our fear of the Lord. In our culture full of the idols of self-autonomy, worldly thinking devoid of God, sexual immorality, political power, and instant gratification, we must be far more concerned of God’s opinion than the opinion of our family, our neighbors, and the gatekeepers of polite society. We must be far more fearful of dishonoring God than bearing the disapproval of man.
We must fear God and do what is right.