Are You Brave?
Several years ago I read a book called My One Word which was about choosing just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. The first year I chose the word “free” and in 2015 I chose the word “brave.” One day that year I saw this little sign in a store and it really caught my attention. It said, “How Big is Your Brave?” I’ve thought about that sign ever since I saw it, and ask myself this question often. Is it too little? Can I grow my brave? I truly want to be fully brave for Jesus because there are so many things in this life that I want to be vibrantly brave for!
How big IS your brave? It’s OK if you feel this is an area you need and want to grow in. There is no condemnation in this question, it’s only meant to cause us to take a moment and examine ourselves to see where we are on the spectrum. Is your brave level lower than you want? How big do you want your brave to be? How big do you need your brave to be?
There are some personalities that are naturally “braver” than others, and we would be wise to take this into consideration. That’s why there’s no condemnation here. Each of us has a unique personality with its own set of strengths and weaknesses and each of us is given an opportunity to renew our minds to the image of ourselves that God has in His mind for us. The very good news is that we do not have to make ourselves brave by ourselves! We don’t have to self-generate our bravery. This is not a work of the flesh, but truly a work of the Spirit in our cooperation with Him. Psalm 138:3 (NKJV) says “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”
The Lord spoke 3 questions to me as I was thinking about my own personal bravery level:
Have I not promised My Presence to be with you?
Have I not promised My Strength to be given to you?
Have I not promised My Love to dwell in your heart?
Let’s begin with the first question: Have I not promised My Presence to be with you?
In Exodus 33 the Lord told Moses to lead his people into the promised land. Moses had some questions about how this was supposed to come about. God answers him starting in verse 14 of chapter 33.
“And He (God) said, ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest. And he (Moses) said to Him, ‘If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.’”
Moses was smart enough to know better than to do such an endeavor without God’s presence being with him. He knew what a difference maker the presence of God was. Many times before I do something, I will say to the Lord, “I cannot do this if You don’t go with me” because I know that in John 15:5 Jesus says “Apart from me you can do nothing.” If I’m going to be brave about something, I have to know that God is with me.
We must have God’s presence with us at all times because we need His ongoing instruction and direction as we encounter our daily adventures. It’s like always having your dad or big brother with you on the school playground when the bullies come around. His presence with us gives us the advantage every time, and this gives us the confidence to be brave.
The next thing God said to me was “Have I not promised My Strength to be given to you?
I think all of us can honestly say that our strength is insufficient to meet all of life’s challenges. I know if I am depending on my own natural strength to get me through all that I have to face, that it will not get me very far.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 recognizes his own weaknesses and instead of being ashamed of them, he exalts God’s power resting on him. He says “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We know from scripture that Paul was very brave in his walk with the Lord, in the fulfillment of his calling. We can see the manifestation of Paul’s belief in God’s provision of strength in all that he was able to accomplish in his lifetime.
You don’t have to be ashamed of your weaknesses and shortcomings when you have the promise of God Himself strengthening you. We know from Nehemiah 8:10 that the joy of the Lord is our strength. The enemy will do his best to get us to focus on what we don’t have in ourselves instead of what we do have in God. Our joy is most beneficial and most powerful when it is completely based on how good God is to us. His strengthening us is part of His goodness to us. God has an unending supply of strength for us to reach deep into in our need.
The last question the Lord presented to me was “Have I not promised My love to dwell in your heart?”
Love is the foundation, the basis for everything we do, including being brave. Many times in our lives, we will be called on to do something difficult because we love someone. Love makes us brave and love requires us to be brave. There will be some very practical and natural applications of love being brave in our personal lives.
I know in my own life, I have had to summon my bravery on behalf of my love for my family. My mother has Alzheimer’s, and we had to move her out of her home into assisted living a couple of years ago. I was very sure that it was time for her to not be living on her own, yet I feared the wrath of my mom, I feared her great sorrow at leaving her house. She was still fairly lucid mentally but was starting to do things like turning her coffee maker upside down and pouring water into the bottom of it, getting water all over her floor. She also was having trouble getting dressed and doing other normal daily activities. Moving Mom into a care facility was uncomfortable and very hard, but we did it and we know we did the right thing based on our love and care for our mom. I had to be brave for my mother’s good.
What about the bravery that’s needed when you feel led to witness to someone? Some people find witnessing easier than others do, and for those of us who feel shy about it, we can remember that it’s because of love that we would share Jesus with a stranger.
Love makes us brave. It pushes us to do things we would not normally see ourselves doing. It inspires us to do and say things that are outside of our comfort zones. We find ourselves bravely laying down our lives for other people because of this love.
Love made Jesus brave, didn’t it? He had to endure the cross, despite the shame that was heaped upon him from the world, and all because He loved His Father and He loved us. He was willing to suffer whatever was necessary for the benefit of others. Jesus is a powerful example to us of what bravery based on love looks like. We want love to be the motivator for all acts of bravery because we know that whatever is done in love will remain throughout eternity. Love makes being brave worth it!
I believe we can be brave all day long when we keep these three things in mind: God’s Presence, God’s Strength, and God’s Love. All three are given to us freely by God, and will provide a firm foundation with which to base our bravery on.