Editor’s Note: Today’s Sit & Listen Saturday is a little different than usual. Michael Anthony has written a special devotion for Devotionals Daily, which you can read below. The audio devotion today is a bonus excerpt from his new book, A Call for Courage. We hope you enjoy reading Michael’s post as well as listening to the separate audio devotion!
The Courage of Faith
But the righteous will live by his faith. – Habakkuk 2:4
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. – Acts 4:13
I’m not sure when it began. I just know it happened, and most of us are suffering the consequences. Courage was somehow extracted from the American definition of what it means to live by faith. Maybe you can identify. If you find that courage is lacking in your life, it’s a good indication that you bought into the misconception that courage is something people are born with. It is, in fact, something that is developed.
Your courage will rise or fall in proportion to the quality of time you spend with Jesus Christ. We have God’s word on it.
Somehow, courage and humility have taken a back seat (in a large minivan) in our very busy, distracted lives. It may be time to (re)discover the important truth that courage and humility are key traits of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking it’s possible to live by faith without courage and humility being manifest.
We always become like the people with whom we spend the most time. Jesus was most certainly humble (the most humble person who ever lived), but no one could suggest Jesus was a coward and be taken seriously. The Lion of the tribe of Judah exuded a constant stream of courageous humility. When we spend time with Jesus, the same stream will overflow in our lives, impacting the people and circumstances around us. It’s inescapable.
Do you want to live by faith? Courageous humility can be a trait of your life, courtesy of its author, Jesus.
To spend time with Jesus (the word who became flesh, as John 1:14 says) is to spend time in His Word, the Bible. The two are inseparable, though many nowadays mistakenly seek for a divine experience through lesser, powerless means. Have you underestimated the power of God’s word to make you look and live more like your Lord? Many have. God’s calling for you, however, is to be among the minority of people who follow hard after him – and are transformed in the process. Those who are transformed become agents of divine transformation.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF COURAGE
Humility and courage are not merely important traits of a disciple – they are the sure giveaways that a disciple’s faith is real. They prove whether or not someone is still growing, walking with Jesus. Their absence indicates stagnation. Are you growing, or have you stagnated? The great news is that no matter where you are in your journey, God’s arms are always opened wide. If Jesus can welcome back the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), comfort a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and be known as a “friend” of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34) – there’s room at His table for you. Don’t ever forget this truth: human setbacks pave the way for divine come-backs.
The disciples spent time with Jesus, and courageous humility was the byproduct. If you want to develop Christ’s humility and courage, you must spend time in His Word, the Bible. When you make this your top priority, humility and courage will well up in your life, too. It’s an inescapable reality of truly spending time with the Master. No one who surrenders to the word of God will ever live to regret it.
Cowering is a consequence of “spiritual amnesia” – forgetting what God says in His Word. We’re all alike in that we leak; we forget what God says. This is why spending time with Jesus, in the Bible, is not merely important, but imperative. To fix our leaks, we need the patchwork that God provides through the application of His Word.
OUR GENTLEMAN GOD
“Do you not know,” says the Word, “that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” — 1 Corinthians 6:19
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Holy Spirit, it’s that He is a gentleman. He will not force Himself upon a person (though He can prove resistance an exercise in absurdity). The surest road to courageous humility, the central trait of our Friend and Master, is a steady diet of the Bible with a commitment to applying what we digest.
It’s not just reading God’s word that will make a difference in our lives. It’s the application that is the game-changer. It will keep us from playing games with God, with others, and with ourselves. The expression of Christ-like character is directly affected by how much I hunger to see it manifest in my life.
We must remember that there were 6,000 Pharisees who walked the earth when our Lord graced the world – but not a one was chosen to be among the twelve disciples. Yet every Pharisee had the equivalent (and then some) of a modern PhD. in the Old Testament. If Bible knowledge were the evidence of spiritual maturity, the Pharisees would have been candidates for gold medals. Most, however, missed Jesus entirely. This is the most tragic of all errors in human history. Those whose lives were completely dedicated to teaching about and recognizing the Messiah missed Him when stood before their very eyes. It is a grave mistake to think Bible knowledge is the same as applying the Bible. We must always be careful we don’t confuse the two. Ask any Pharisee.
If we want humility and courage – if we really want to live by faith – we need to invite them to the forefront of our lives. More than a commitment to Bible reading and study is necessary. We must be committed to seeing all Bible study and reading as literally spending time with Jesus – and immediately, constantly, putting whatever it is He says to us into action. It’s this approach to Jesus that the disciples had – and that is why they had such courage, mixed with what seems to be so foreign to its expression nowadays – humility.
A DIVINE RECIPE
Biblical faith is comprised of steaming, equal portions of humility and courage. These are the fuels that feed the furnace of a heart devoted to Jesus Christ. But we cannot worship, love, or serve a God we do not know. If we are out of God’s Word, we are out of step with the God of His Word. When courage and humility are lacking in our lives, their absence is a sign that we have strayed from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
You need courage to lead your family, to raise your children. You need humility to seek, find and follow God toward this end. This is what it means to be a parent who lives righteously, who walks by faith as a parent or guardian. You need humility and courage to be an exemplary employee or boss, to live a life that greatly glorifies God in what may be very distasteful, dark conditions. This is what it means to live as “salt” and “light.” Salt changes the flavor of things, and light overcomes darkness. Instead of asking God to deliver you from your circumstances, why not ask Him to give you the courageous humility you need to represent Him well and be the instrument through which He changes lives?
So much in our lives – and in the lives of others – rises or falls on the presence or absence of courageous humility. The disciples had it, and so can we. They were not super human. They simply spent time with the One who was. Our lives, like theirs, can be transformed into powerful factors of influence, marked by the courage and humility that can only come when we seek, find, and follow God by putting His word into action.
AND YOUR ANSWER IS?
Have you made the mistake of thinking courage is something some people are born with and others are not? Have you separated courage and humility from the exercise of your faith, from spending time with Jesus through His Word? Do you understand that the application of God’s Word is to live out what Jesus is teaching you?
Confessing Jesus as Lord is not what makes Him Lord of a person’s life. Jesus says,
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles.’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. — Matthew 7:22-26
To apply God’s Word is to honor Jesus as Lord and truly live by faith. To spend time in the Word, with a commitment to putting it into action, is what it means make Jesus’ lordship the daily reality of your life.
Nothing overcame Jesus. When you walk with Him, nothing will overcome you. Courageous humility can become your new way of life. In today’s world where arrogance and fear are so rampant, and people of faith are being told to sit down and shut up, that’s great news nearly everyone needs to hear.
Original devotion for Devotionals Daily written by Michael Anthony, author of A Call for Courage, copyright Michael Anthony.
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Courage is something that is developed; it isn’t innate. The more time we spend with Jesus, the less afraid and small we will feel, the more we will walk according to His Word. It’s that simple. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily