True Bravery

Heroic Stories

A common theme of history, and of the great stories which have been passed down through generations, centers on heroes and their exploits. These heroes accomplish great deeds and exhibit the quality of great bravery. This bravery is often seen in the face of dangerous enemies or even great beasts, commonly a choice to face impossible odds and to turn aside from the temptation of fear.

In our own short history as a nation we have great stories of bravery, especially in times of war. Many heroes have fought in far off lands to liberate the oppressed and to defend our nation from aggressors. Many of these heroes paid for their valor with their own blood, and their sacrifice is never to be forgotten.

Human Nature

However, it is a curious aspect of human nature that some deeds which require the greatest amount of bravery do not involve meeting the enemy in war or rescuing those in danger from catastrophe, but instead confronting moral dangers and choosing to live a moral life. For instance, in the Bible there are examples of men who choose to face great physical dangers, but succumb to moral pitfalls. David volunteered to stand before the great Goliath as a young man and showed great bravery before a physical threat, but became an abject coward when facing his own moral failure in committing adultery with Bathsheba.

In the New Testament we find Peter’s pledge of great bravery when promising to defend Christ from physical enemies (even cutting off someone’s ear with a sword), but becoming an abject coward when confronted by total strangers as to his personal association with Christ. It is curious that for many of us, we would rather face monsters, swords, or bullets than the disapproval of the world by being open and proud of the moral truth of God’s Word.

In many ways, this idea is a generalization, and many exceptions to this rule exist. We can see a list of several in Hebrews Chapter 11, where heroes of faith are remembered. However, were these heroes remembered more for physical bravery or moral bravery? How many of us if we knew our closest friend was trapped in a burning building would think nothing of facing physical danger to save them? Why then is it so hard to be brave when confronting their moral failures, the need for Christ, and the infinitely worse danger of hell they face? Which requires true bravery?

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