In Thailand, there is an old saying that a man is born with two hearts; a heart of fear and a heart of bravery. Each day a man must face himself and decide, “Will I be ruled by fear today, or will I choose bravery?”
Many people try to find a way of life that does not require them to face themselves. They don’t want to have to be honest with themselves. They don’t want to have to choose between fear and bravery. If we don’t face ourselves, do a gut check, confront simple reality, and accept what makes up our most undesirable parts, then we’ll never conquer our heart of fear.
When we look at our fear, face it, and study it, we’ve chosen to embrace a heart of bravery. Bravery is boldness, courage, and strength in the face of struggle and affliction. As Psalm 31:24 says, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Paul encourages the Corinthians, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Co 16:13). Solomon tells us, “The righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov 28:1).
This isn’t an easy thing. Moses asked God to replace him when the Lord called Moses to return to Egypt and preach to Pharaoh. After the death of Moses, Joshua had to be reminded again and again by the Lord to “be strong and very courageous” in leading God’s people (Josh 1:6-7).
Jonah tried to run away from God’s call to preach to Nineveh. Barak needed Deborah by his side before he could speak against the army of King Jabin. God had to speak to Gideon a lot to convince him to become a judge over Israel.
As much as we may struggle and need constant reassurance, we too are called by God to be brave and not fear. Often, we face pushbacks from family, friends, employers, and neighbors who do not understand our beliefs or want to force us to compromise. But these are minor inconveniences compared with struggles and afflictions yet to come. Churches will continue to be vandalized and set on fire. Christians will continue to be afflicted for our beliefs. Social discord and unrest will continue to ramp up as we become more and more politically divided. There are times yet to come that will require us to embrace a heart of bravery. Otherwise, we’ll be overrun by our sins, this evil world, and satanic attacks.
His word is what strengthens and changes our hearts. The Lord God will bring us victory.
As the Apostle Paul assures us, “God gave us a [S]pirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:7). In the spirit of Christ, we don’t have to be afraid of struggle and affliction. We don’t have to compromise our beliefs to make others comfortable or happy with us. We don’t have to encourage them to be ruled by a heart of fear. Instead, God gives us a spirit that sets us free to be brave and courageous and love boldly in our thoughts and actions because, as John writes, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
We must always keep in mind that though we may struggle and suffer affliction, the battle is not a solo mission. In the time of King Jehoshaphat, when Judah was faced with overwhelming odds, a Levite named Jahaziel told the people, “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron 20:15). His word is what strengthens and changes our hearts. The Lord God will bring us victory.
Let us then pray and trust that God will change our heart of fear into a heart of bravery as he’s promised, just as he does with so many of his saints.
Because we know God is on our side and the Spirit of Christ is within us, “we have the confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:19-23).