Courage vs. Fear

Have you ever found yourself in need of courage? Everyone at some time in their lives needs to act with courage. Some require it more often than others. Most people might define courage as bravery, fortitude, or gallantry. By these definitions courage might manifest itself in a confrontation with risk, danger, or even simple fear. Typically we might think of courage being needed in situations requiring self sacrifice such as in the case of a soldier, or someone protecting others due to love or duty, or someone standing up for what is right in situations of ethical or moral challenges.

There are many examples of individuals and groups of individuals standing and acting with courage in the bible. We should certainly think of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Samuel among others (Heb. 11). But, in the New Testament courage is used to speak of people with a certain characteristic. It is a characteristic that is learned only from the word of God, much the same as love. We can learn what this is by looking at the usage of a word that is commonly translated as courage.

The word is tharseō (thar-seh'-o, θαρσέω) and is used in Mat. 9:2, Mat. 14:27, Mark 6:50, John 16:33, Acts 23:11. In these scriptures it is translated as cheer in the King James Version. It is also used in Mat. 9:22, Mark 10:49, Luke 8:48 and translated as comfort in the King James Version.

In each of the verses there are cases of individuals being called to challenge their fears. In one is a woman who wanted to be saved from seemingly imminent death due to her illness but is in fact saved from her sins. In another is a paralytic that physically could not walk but was called to do so. A disciple was persuaded to walk on water just as the master was doing, but with courage. And, an apostle was under the threat of death because of his work for the Lord, but he was called to courage in spite of the risk to make testimony of the Gospel.

Each has a common thread that is required for the person to be considered courageous by the Lord. They must each have faith. The sick were healed and forgiven of sins because of faith. The disciple could not sustain his walk on the water’s surface because of a smallness of faith. Our courage is defined by our faith – “Therefore, being always of good courage… for we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Cor. 5-6-7

Patrick Hutto