What makes a person courageous?
Saving a baby from a burning building? Standing in front of a bulldozer to block demolition of a bird habitat? Flying through the air at superhuman speed?
Or is it simply walking into a dreaded meeting? Smiling when you’re really sad? Doing chores, because they must be done, even when it’s physically painful.
Maybe courage is all of these.
I define courage as doing what’s right, even when you feel afraid.
Maybe you’ve read about the Good Samaritan. It’s one of those well-worn stories that gets taught in Sunday School as standard fare. I don’t remember the word courage used to describe the Samaritan, but I’m thinking he was pretty brave.
Yet to read it closely, putting myself into the story, it takes on a whole new meaning. Would I be more like the Samaritan than the priests? What does my current life tell me my choice would have been, had I been there?
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)
Too many times I’ve chosen to look away, like the pious ones. But I think they were awful! I want to be courageous, like the Samaritan. He did what was right, in spite of what he might have felt, in spite of what was popular, in spite of what others thought of him. In this act of courage, the Samaritan shows mercy, kindness and compassion that mirrors Christ. I want to be like that.
But we can’t just make that happen with the snap of a finger. It happens in little building blocks. We have to take in God’s Word daily, and then do our best to make His Word live in our lives. When we have a daily relationship with the Lord through Jesus, it’s easier to be compassionate, kind, and reach out to hurting people. Jesus tenders our hearts to be more like His.
Today, we’ll have an opportunity to start building blocks of courage. Whether it’s in the form of smiling at an unpleasant person, giving grace instead of holding a grudge, or trying something difficult, proceeding courageously instead of shrinking back will be your small building block. In living out God’s grace and mercy that He has shown you time and time again, you will be dying to your old self and becoming new. Brave.
Choose to be courageous today, my friend. I will, too.