Courage to Speak and Act
We must lift our voices and speak with courage. Courage is not necessarily a good thing and people have shown tremendous courage in unjust causes. Courage for its own purposes is empty of virtue. I am asking for courage to speak the truth of God in a time when our world is being clouded from seeing the true danger of sin and the amazing promise found in the forgiveness of sins.
Christian courage is about more than being right. In the Bible, you and I are called to lift our voices for others, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). I do not think we should give away our strength by being silent.
I am surprised by how quickly the world around me is changing, yet I know that I should not be surprised by the challenges we face as followers of Jesus. Jesus promised us struggles as we share the Gospel. Jesus told his followers, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). St. Paul also wrote about this struggle when he gave words of warning to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. Paul told them, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). These words from Jesus and from Paul are scary. The challenges of sin, death, and Satan test our courage to hold fast to the promises of God in Christ Jesus. We need courage. Where will we get the courage to face these kinds of moments?
We need the Spirit of God to move us forward in our speech and actions for the defenseless and forgotten. Our courage will not come from an inner strength that you or I possess. I doubt our inner strength. I have learned that it is easier to be silent when holding a position that is against the popular opinion. Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann calls this the spiral of silence, which means “human beings don’t wish to isolate themselves; they incessantly observe their environment; they register to the minutest detail what is gaining the upper hand and what is diminishing. He who see that his own opinion is prevailing feels strengthened, speaks publicly drops his caution. He who sees that his own opinion is losing ground, falls silent.” The devil knows that cowardice will often lead us to despair and shame. I do not think that knowing our weaknesses always leads us to despair.
I do not want to be silent, I want to have the courage to speak up. I want to lift my voice from my sin and struggles and point people to Jesus as my life and salvation. I know that I will not begin the momentum to change from silence to action. The courage to speak and act in the name of Jesus begins in my heart through the operation of the Holy Spirit. By grace I have been saved, and this is not my own doing. God graciously saves us, and not one of us can boast that we have moved from death to life through our works. My changed standing before God came about because of Jesus Christ. The same Jesus that loves me in the midst of my sin and shame is the Jesus that gives me the courage to stand before others and to lift my voice. You and I must rely on the operation of the Holy Spirit in our congregation and in our lives so that we can hold fast to the promises of Christ.
Our trust in being filled with the Spirit moments of trial and temptation is based on the promise of Jesus. Jesus promised that He would send the Helper who will come and be the Spirit of truth. Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit lifts our voices above the noise and breaks into the hearts of the lost and broken to deliver people to the truth of hope and healing found in the work of Jesus Christ.
The power of God that is with us is greater than our adversary. Trust these words of encouragement from 2 Chronicles, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed…for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).