Are You Courageous or Cowardly?

By Chip Ingram

What is your purpose in life? Yes, that’s a big question. You probably believe there is more than one reason why you’re on earth. But every single person throughout history can discover at least part of the answer in how Jesus described His own purpose.

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To testify to the truth. In John 18:37, He says, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

But how are we supposed to tackle that huge calling? It comes down to this … we can respond in a cowardly way, or we can respond courageously. Every step we take moves us down a path toward one of those two destinies. What determines which decision we make?

In John 18, Peter provides a dramatic example of this. It’s the night of Jesus’s arrest. The first scene is when Judas comes to betray his Lord, accompanied by temple officials and a “detachment” of Roman soldiers —which at minimum means 200 men. (Of course, Judas testifies untruthfullyby calling Jesus his “Rabboni,” which means “you are my Teacher and my Rabbi whom I have followed.”)

When Jesus asks who the soldiers are seeking, He testifies that He is Jesus of Nazareth. The reaction is astonishing.

“When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).

Jesus’s declaration of I AM echoes the name of I AM THAT I AM which Jehovah revealed to Moses. It is so powerful that it flattens 200 veteran warriors! Think about that!

What else does it do? It emboldens Peter, and he steps up to protect his Lord Jesus. One man and one dagger against a battalion!

Peter is willing to lay down his life in the presence of the power of God. But that courage is utterly absent a few hours later.

Jesus has been dragged to the temple, and Peter is lurking around a nearby fire, lost and fearful of what is going to happen.

Three times people ask Peter about his association to Jesus.

  • The servant girl at the gate: “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” (John 18:17)
  • The folks around the fire: “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” (John 18:25)
  • One of the high priest’s servants: “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” (John 18:26)

Three times Peter turns coward and denies Jesus.

What had empowered Peter in the first scene to testify to the truth and act courageously? Jesus’s presence and power. Then what happened? Peter was overtaken by fear.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

So when it comes to facing the demands of living as a Christian in this fallen world, are you courageous or cowardly? The answer to that question probably is “both,” depending upon how close you are to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the King of the Universe.

We won’t testify to the truth unless we are people of faith. It may not be easy, but courage is choosing to do or say what we know is right despite feeling like a coward. Then, when you see the power of God’s Word working through you by faith, despite your fear, that’s something to testify to.

For more information about living courageously, check out the series Jesus Unfiltered: Testify

Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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