Doing what’s right usually isn’t easy. Too many times it’s met with skepticism or even outright opposition. For instance, in parts of the world today, standing up for your faith in Jesus Christ is dangerous. It can get you killed. Even in places where Christianity is supposed to be legal and protected, refusing to renounce one’s faith can be met with violence. I remember a few years ago when a pastor friend shared about an Egyptian preacher, in a city where Christianity was permitted, was captured by those opposed to his message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They roughed him up, they insulted him, and then they poured boiling oil on his feet as “punishment” for “teaching falsehood.” Yet folks like this pastor persevere. They don’t give in. They know the dangers and they still stay true to their faith.
Others put themselves in harm’s way to serve others. They may serve as doctors or nurses. They may be part of food relief agencies. They could be there to help dig wells and provide clean water. The fact of the matter is they know where they are going is dangerous and they still go. People need help. The Gospel needs to be taken, both in word and in deed. This all requires bravery. It requires getting out of the comfort zone. It demands standing up at personal risk. And that’s just the way God would have it.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV
Timothy was called to be a preacher and an elder. Paul was encouraging him to pursue his calling and to fan it into a great flame. Paul didn’t want Timothy to think small. We’re not talking a candle in the dark. Some are called to that and in their circumstances, it takes great courage to be a candle surrounded by oppressive and dangerous darkness. But Timothy had greater opportunity. Paul wanted him to be a roaring fire. That meant taking on great challenges for the Gospel. It meant being ready to step up and take the hits because it was the right thing to do. And so Paul gives Timothy a charge by reminding him that we were not given a spirit of fear. God doesn’t want us cowering. God gave Timothy and us a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control. Yes, those last two are important. Reckless or unloving power is not godly. Paul was saying that if God calls us to it, God will provide what we need, we just have to be brave and take up the challenge.
In God’s eyes, bravery is still a virtue. I know in our world today it’s about protecting oneself, covering up, making sure we’re safe, and not standing out. Paul was telling Timothy that was the wrong attitude. That’s an attitude of fear. Instead, Paul was challenging Timothy to live up to everything God wanted him to be. He was asking Timothy to be brave. That same charge extends to us today. We can look at all the reasons not to do something, but if God wants us to do it, we must find the courage to plunge ahead. There is Kingdom work to be done. There is a Gospel to be shared. There are brothers and sisters in faith to welcome and develop. However, all of these things require us to be brave.
What’s holding you back? In what areas, with respect to God’s call on your life, are you being timid? Have you been afraid to ask God what He would have you do? Don’t be any longer. Paul lived a full, earthly life in preparation for the one to come. He faced countless trials and tribulations but didn’t back down. Even faced with a sure death for his faith, he was still looking forward to being able to share that faith and finish strong. He wanted to be brave. God honored that. If you want to be brave and live up to God’s calling, He will honor that, too. That’s why He gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. He wants us to answer that calling in a way that glorifies Him. All it takes is for us to step up and want it. How badly do you want it?