Sunday, October 14, 2012

Moral Courage - What is it and have you got any?

What is Moral Courage and Have you Got Any?

Did you see what happened at the Democrat National Convention? (I know this is old news – please bear with me.) The DNC had taken the word ‘God’ out of their party platform. Some people realized that would not go over well with some of the voters so they decided to put the word ‘God’ back in.  They took a vote THREE times and the people screamed NO each time.  They didn’t want God’s name back in their party platform.  Now, just putting the name back in would not have put God back in the hearts of anyone.  Still, I wasn’t expecting the attendees to scream so violently and vehemently NO to even having the name of God mentioned.  It was a scene I will remember forever.  I covered my head and prayed for God’s mercy.  These people were so angry that I wondered if they would actually ‘gnash with their teeth’ anyone who happened to stand up to them. 

 In Acts chapter 7:54 we have a thought provoking verse that says, ‘When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.’  This is of course the account of Stephen’s death.  He told the truth regarding Jesus Christ.  The crowd couldn’t take the truth, so the bit him and crushed him with rocks until he was dead.  Now how awful and unbelievable is that?  He was just telling the truth and it got him murdered.  Now that was Moral Courage at its finest.  Stephen did what he knew he was supposed to do even though people hated him enough to kill him for it. 

At the Democratic Convention I was expecting some democrats to have the moral courage to come forward, apologize to the American people, and firmly state that they personally did want God’s name in their party platform.  That didn’t happen.  If anyone left the democrat party because of this very telling incident I did not hear about it.  I think some of the democrats were appalled at what happened, but not one had the moral courage to stand up and clearly state his or her own position. All I heard was several people making light of what happened and calling omitting God’s name a simple oversight.  If there are any real Christians in that political party they are surely lacking in moral courage. 

I am very concerned that with such passionate hatred of God Almighty becoming publically acceptable that those who truly love God will be pushed into silence, or persecuted for having the moral courage to speak out.

It is apparent that even the name of the Most High God of the Bible can bring out fearsome anger and potential violence in the world today.  People who hate God Almighty have rejected their own salvation.  God is number one on their enemy list.  They hate God, and they hate God’s representatives.  The only way for those who hate God to be changed is through the transformation that comes directly from God.  And the way they learn about God Almighty is through messengers of God and God’s Word as recorded in the Bible.  That makes YOU – practicing Christian – Y-O-U – a messenger from God.  You are an important person!

 So, HOW are you presenting the Gospel Message to a lost world?  I can guess that you are NOT carrying a pig’s head around on a pole like one so-called Christian outreach to Moslems.  But, you are presenting the message in one way or another.  Your moral courage is an indicator of how well you are doing.

 The good news is that moral courage is like faith.  If you are a child of God you have it, but you may not have had to use it much.  You have probably used it more than you think though.  For instance when you simply do what is right even if it is easy you are exercising your moral courage muscle.  Did that disgusting add pop up on your computer?  What did you do?  If you clicked it off immediately you exercised moral courage.  After all – who would know if you indulged yourself a few minutes.  You could say moral courage is at least in part doing what is right when no one is looking.  You know that God is ALWAYS looking, and His good opinion is the reward you are seeking.  I personally pray that I NEVER have to use great moral courage that will get me thrown into jail or stoned.  Plus, there is a time and a place for everything.  You don’t want to provoke an incident that would get you stoned on a day that God isn’t requiring that of you.  I think the people carrying the hog’s head on a pole in front of Moslems were just looking for a fight.  God isn’t interested in that.  So, you will need to draw the line somewhere.  You have to go where the situation takes you, and you have to do what is right at the time.  Don’t feel too bad if you don’t get it right the first time.  God may give you a second chance to be ‘burned at the stake’.  Consider Thomas Cranmer.  He rejected Catholicism, but on peril of being burned at the stake, he recanted his decision several times.  However, in the end he had the moral courage to denounce popery as false and he was burned at the stake.  That is the way our hearts often work.  We don’t have the moral courage to do what is right today, but we may be given a chance to do it tomorrow. Don’t count on having a second chance as a reason to avoid your duty today; however, don’t count yourself as useless to God because of past failures. 

 People who claim to be Christians, and maybe some of them actually are Christians, often allow their lives to be run by:
 love of possessions,
the good will of men,
social standing. 
That’s it. Exercising moral courage often requires setting these things aside and simply doing what is right according to God Almighty as revealed to us in His Word.  A Christian should love God more than they love their possessions, the good will of men, and social standing.  Actually we shouldn’t love those things at all, but I do acknowledge that is difficult to avoid some attachment to the things of this world.

It is in the heart of every true believer that the lost would hear the truth about how to get to heaven.   The Bible tells is in Romans 10:13-14, ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

This clearly tells us that they have to call on the name of the Lord to be saved.

AND – they can’t call on whom they haven’t believed, and they can’t believe unless they hear about Jesus, and they can hear about Jesus unless someone tells them.  How clear is that?

SOMEONE has to tell them about Jesus.  Is that someone you? 

No one will be effective as a servant of the Lord by simply preaching the Gospel.  The moral courage to live a life in obedience to God is required. 

Honestly, your moral courage tells the world who you really are.  It provides a clear picture of your core values.  The life of a Christian with moral courage is not controlled by his/her environment.  The Holy Spirit is in control. 

Ephesians 5:18 says, ‘And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;’.

 A drunkard has given control of their actions to alcohol.  Nobody likes a drunk except another drunk.  Instead of that, a Christian is supposed to give control of their life to the Holy Spirit.  That DOES NOT mean some sort of imitation of drunkenness.  It means choosing to live according to the teachings of Jesus no matter what the circumstances.  Galatians 5: 22-23 says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’

A Christian should be looking for these things in his/her own life as a way of measuring progress as a Christian.  It isn’t to pat one’s self on the back; it is a way provided by God for believers to keep a watch on how they are progressing as a Christian.

It takes personal moral courage to:

choose to love those who are not loveable,

to accept the continual joy of Christ’s presence when you are in the middle of a trying situation, to cling to the peace that passes understanding when your world has been turned up side down, to continue praying for someone or something,

to return gentleness for harshness,

to do good in return for evil,

to meekly acknowledge that your help is coming from the Lord,

and to face volatile and unfair situations with temperance and patience.

We are born with a sin nature, so it is not natural for us to live a life led by the Holy Spirit.  The goal of Christians is to be more like Christ, more conformed to His image, and to do the things the Bible says to do.  Believers can gain courage by encouraging ourselves in the Lord.  This is done through Bible reading, study.  When King David was in a situation so dire the people were considering stoning him, the Bible says ‘he encouraged himself in the Lord’. (1Samuel chapter 30)  We can do the same thing in whatever situation we may find ourselves.  When we have encouraged ourselves by ‘consuming’ the word of the Lord we have courage to go ahead with the task before us. 
God bless you
'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'.  Genesis 1:1 

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