I had just left the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hills to go to my room for the evening. It has been a magical evening in Washington D. C., I was presented the Jonas Clark Award by Family Research Council for my work the previous year in standing with and supporting members of my church in San Antonio, Texas. I was walking in the hallway when I was stopped by a conference attendee and asked a simple question. The question was, “where did you get the courage to do what you did?” I brushed oﬀ the question with a simple response of “Thank you, but what I did was not that courageous.”
The last couple of months I have given a lot of reﬂection to the question “where did you get the courage to do what you did?” I think I found the answer as I was reading Philippians 2:5. Paul says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” This passage of Scripture does not have the word “courage” in it. But when I read verses 6-8 all I see is the courage of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not hold on to his position in the Trinity, he emptied himself, he took the form of a bond-servant, and was found in likeness and appearance as a man. At ﬁrst, we will not associate any of these events with courage, but it was the start that moved to the ﬁnal event that demonstrated amazing courage. Paul said that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The entire last night before the cruciﬁxion was event after event that demonstrated the courage of Jesus. Two events that stand out early in the evening were at the Garden of Gethsemane and the answering the High Priest question. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” The prayer by Jesus was another step towards the demonstration of courage. He made the decision to start the walk to the cross. Later after his arrest, he is facing accusation and questions from the religious leaders. There came the moment when the High Priest said to Jesus, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus response was one of amazing courage. He knew the reaction of the religious leaders that would follow. At this critical moment Jesus said to the High Priest, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” After the answer, Jesus was severely beaten by those who were in the room.
I picked these two events for a reason. Great acts of courage start quietly and slowly build. So as we walk through that ﬁnal evening each act of Jesus is another step that will eventually lead to His death. Each act builds upon the conclusion that Jesus demonstrated an amazing courage as He gave up his life on the cross.
Our response to Jesus’ demonstration of courage would be a simple dismissal that Jesus could do that, but we can’t. He is the Son of God and has amazing abilities and powers and we are just human. We know that we are to have the same attitude as Jesus, but some things are just a little beyond our reach.
But this is where our passage should catch our attention. What was the attitude of Jesus? Paul states it in v. 2 when he says, “do nothing from selﬁshness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” What was the attitude that Jesus possessed that we can also possess? He considered others more important than himself.
Then it dawned on me where courage comes from. It comes from humility. When we consider the people around us as more important than ourselves, we will start leading courageous lives. So, when a city wants to adopt new laws that hurts and punishes the members of your church, how can you sit quietly and do nothing. If a member of your church is having his career ruined by those in authority who have evil agendas, how can you sit by and say to your friend, “I will pray for you and may the Lord bless you” and then never take a stand with them in the public square.
If our people are important enough to us, will we not stand on their behalf and do whatever is necessary to protect them. I believe that humility leads to quiet acts of support and help, and then to public acts of support. It leads to standing up to the cultural forces of evil and speaking out because your people need to be protected. You will not worry about the cost to you, because you will truly believe that if you walk humbly with your God, He will take care of you.
And then one day someone will come and ask you, “where did you get the courage to do what you did?”
Writer – Dr. Steve Branson, Senior Pastor Village Parkway Baptist Church