There have been many times in my ministry that I was under conviction to preach a certain message which I knew beyond doubt would not be received very well. Perhaps the church was facing an important decision, or there was a disruption in the fellowship, or a heresy was gaining strength and needed to be addressed. I have argued with God many times, asking Him if He was really sure that’s what He wanted! Once or twice, I’ve even tried to prepare other sermons instead, all the while knowing that was not what God desired.
One week many years ago, I even had the sermon completed, the manuscript neatly typed and lying on my desk. God woke me up early that Sunday morning, with such a burden that I had to get up, go to my study before dawn, and prepare the message He had wanted in the first place.
On those occasions, it wasn’t that I thought I knew better. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to say. It was that I was afraid–plain and simple. I was afraid of the consequences, afraid of what the powerful families in the church would think, say or do. So, if you adhere to Eddie Rickenbacker’s definition of courage quoted above, on that day at least, I was courageous. I was afraid, and with much fear and trembling had begged God not to make me do it. But I preached it anyway. Yes, there were consequences which had to be reckoned with, but God provided.
The patriarchs of the Old Testament possessed this courage. The prophets possessed it, the apostles possessed it, and uncounted millions of believers have possessed it through the years in quietness and strength. Courage is what enabled Jesus to plead with God in the garden, “If it is possible, take this cup from me,” yet go to the cross anyway.
To stand before a group of people and declare with love and compassion, “Thus saith the Lord,” is not always an easy thing to do–especially when the people who hear it may not want to hear it at all. To speak out against gossip, hatred, greed, lust, immorality in all its forms, etc., knowing very well that all will not agree, is courage at its best.
The same is true for all of us. We each have those times when we must obey Him regardless of the consequences. So argue with God if you must, but in the end, obey Him with courage.
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com