Do you have Courage? Acts 4.1-22
the fact is - if you are going to step into your God-given purpose,
it will surely take some courage on your part
Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr. Anne Frank.
Mother Teresa. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Winston Churchill. Joan of Arc.
Helen Keller - heroes in courage. My friend, Teri Webster. Courage.
"When the burden grows heavy, and rough is the way,
When you falter and slip, and it isn't your day,
And your best doesn't measure to what is required,
When you know in your heart that you're fast growing tired,
With the odds all against you, there's one thing to do:
That is, call on your courage and see the thing through."1
What is courage? courage is a noun
* the ability to do something that frightens one
* strength in the face of pain or grief 2
When do we need courage?
We need it for big things and sometimes for seemingly small things too. We need courage to step out and act, when doing so could be costly. We need courage to say the right thing when it is sure to be unpopular. We need courage to step forward and take responsibility.
We need courage to take the lead, because maybe no one will follow, or
pay attention, or maybe we will just fail.
Big things - leaving an abusive relationship, standing up to a bully
small things - trying a new food, change of hairstyle ... all require some modicum of courage.
The question is, Where do we get courage? Hmm, good question, probably several sources. But in today's passage we see its innate source.
Here's the scene Luke records in Acts chapter 4. Peter and John are continuing to teach of Jesus near the temple, where they had recently made quite a stir by healing a crippled man. Their influence is growing as more and more people come and respond to their message, which troubles the Jewish leaders in charge. First, the belief that believers in Jesus would rise from the dead, just as Jesus had, was in direct contrast to what the Sadducees believe. And further, the Sadducees are politically motivated to keep things cool with the Roman officials because it serves to maintain their lavish lifestyle - they do not want anyone to rock the boat.
Even though they throw them in jail for a night, Peter will not back down when he is questioned the next day. When asked about his healing power, Peter again credits Jesus - "know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed."3 He continues as it seems like he is building up steam, ". . . Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.4
In Acts chapter four, look how Luke described Peter: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them..." Wait.... did you catch that? It was the Holy Spirit that made them courageous! Verse 12 notes that the people saw Peter's courage, and it greatly impacted them-his courageous words moved them to action. Thousands more trusted in God that day.
Just like Peter - when we exhibit courage - it positively impacts others. And, it will change you.
Do you need courage to stand up, speak up, or show up in your life? Ask God. He will give it to you.
1 - stanza from the poem "Courage, Courage, Courage!" Edgar Albert Guest
2 - Wikipedia dictionary
3 - Acts 4.10
4 - Acts 4.12-13