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What exactly is courage? Biblical courage is a quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to meet the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness and firmness. Courage is fear that has said its prayers, and it fights to the end.
This is the type of courage the apostle Paul had and the kind God wants all of us to possess. As His people, we have no reason to be afraid because He lives within us and will bring us through every situation—even death. At the end of his letter to Timothy, Paul gave his testimony, which reveals why he was willing to face suffering, danger and death.
Earlier in his life, Paul was a persecutor of the church. Having received permission from the Jewish leaders to go to Damascus to imprison more believers, he was on his way when a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” and the voice answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (v. 5). This was the turning point in Paul’s life. He was converted from a vicious persecutor of the church to Christ’s appointed messenger of the gospel.
Since he knew Jesus, Paul was now willing to suffer anything so he could obey the Lord. “In the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Since Paul had lived an obedient life, faithfully carrying out the ministry Christ had given him, he was confident that his death would not result in loss but reward.
The same is true for all of us who follow his example by fighting the good fight, finishing our course, and keeping the faith. In heaven, our works will be evaluated by God for rewards. Since He is perfect and knows everything about us, we can trust that He will judge righteously.
As Paul closed his last letter to Timothy, he recounted the hardships of life (2 Timothy 4:9-16). However, he concluded with these words: “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth” (v. 17). Paul knew that God was always with him no matter how people treated him or what dangerous situations he experienced.
God will be with you just the same when you follow Him. Therefore, take courage. No matter what situation you are in, you have the presence of the Lord to sustain you.
Allen Tilley is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Carthage.
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