Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
When I was a child, I was afraid of many things. Back then, my fears were usually unfounded. I was scared of the dark, of whatever might reside beneath my bed, and whatever could be hiding in my closet. Sometimes I was afraid of talking to certain adults or approaching certain kids in school. These were such small fears, and I had no idea how much bigger fear could get as I grew into adulthood. Life can get a lot scarier than the things we fear as children. What it means to have courage as an eight-year-old in a dark room can be very different than what it means to have courage as someone facing affliction for the sake of the Gospel. As we grow and mature our measure of courage also must grow greater. Otherwise, we will be too afraid to face the things we were meant to conquer.
As our sanctification approaches completion, we want to be able to withstand everything the enemy throws our way. This is not merely about fighting temptation but is about not backing down from our conviction of the truth. When we take that stand, the enemy will use many different techniques to try to get us to buckle. Some fall to flawed logic, and others fall to peer pressure, but many will have to face what they fear. Whether our afflictions are physically painful or emotionally painful, the enemy will try to frighten us into throwing in the towel for fear that we cannot endure with is placed before us. If we believe in the peace and comfort that God makes available to us, there will be no terror so great. Any amount of fear that we feel will be surpassed by the courage God gives us to face it and endure it. As our challenges grow, our courage must grow as well.
The first day that I was saved I had nowhere near the courage of my convictions that I have today. Those who have endured even unto torture and death for the sake of the Gospel have had to build their courage over time. It is not granted in an instant. There is a process by which the fears we have are replaced with God’s good courage, and that is one way we are changed from being like us to being like Christ. Even He went through a time of discipleship with the Father for years before He was ready with the courage He needed to endure even death on a cross for us. Even in those final moments in the Garden of Gethsemane that courage was being built. Father, give us submissive spirits that we would yield to You forming your good courage in us by walking with us as we face even the most terrifying of our fears for the sake of the Gospel.