“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable,
as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters,
and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with
fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
I was introduced to HBO’s “Band of Brothers” a few months ago by one of the guys in my small group. He and a number of other guys in the group often referred to the show, so I figured I should check it out. I was immediately moved by the genuine brotherhood among these men that had been literally forged in foxholes all over Europe.
After watching two gripping episodes, I was struck by the incredible courage that these men displayed over and over again in combat. In scene after scene these men jumped out of the safety of their foxholes with mortars, bullets, and shrapnel flying all around them. In the middle of total chaos, with life and death literally hanging in the balance, they acted courageously.
I will most likely never see combat like that first-hand. I will never really know how I would have responded had I been a part of Easy Company. Would I have courageously stepped out of my foxhole, or would I have found myself on the ground in the fetal position, frozen by fear?
Each of us, however, does have situations that summon courage in us everyday, just like the men in Easy Company. While live ammo might not be whizzing by our heads and the situation might not be life and death, courage is called for nonetheless. In the verse in Revelation, it is interesting that “cowardly” made this list of what most would consider “big” sins. No one would argue that murderers, the sexually immoral, idolaters, and the detestable fit into this category, but when is the last time you heard a sermon on cowardice?
The root of the word used for cowardice in Revelation 21:8 means “to fear or dread.” How often have we failed to step into difficult situations with courage because we feared and tried to avoid potential conflict? Often we even sanctify our cowardice and feel good about ourselves simply because conflict was averted.
Conflict avoidance is not the goal of the Christian life and does not equate to righteous living. Most often, trying to avoid conflict is rooted in cowardice and fear. Jesus, the only perfect individual to ever live, did not walk around trying to keep peace with everyone around Him. On the contrary, He often created conflict with the Pharisees, even going so far as to call them some pretty strong names at times.
Many men in the Church today are trying to follow “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” and honestly don’t know what it looks like to assertively stand up with godly courage. Due to the fear of stepping out-of-bounds with their behavior, they have opted to sit passively on the sidelines and fold their hands nicely in their laps and simply stay out of trouble.
In light of this, it is no wonder that the use of internet pornography is reaching epidemic proportions, even among Christians. In my life and ministry, this is a growing issue. (More of my testimony is at my blog site.) Pornography is the ultimate act of cowardice in that there is no risk, it is always on our terms, and can be easily hidden. Intimacy with our spouse, on the other hand, requires the courage to pursue and the possibility of rejection.
The answer is not found with more accountability or more discipline, although those aren’t bad things at all. We must be honest about our fear of the unknown and how much we want to be in control and abandon ourselves to the big story that God wants to tell with our lives. He is calling us to a loving, intimate relationship and wants us to join Him in this great adventure. As Romans 8:15 says:
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Because we are beloved sons and daughters of a Daddy who is good, we can live boldly and courageously as the assertive, passionate, loving men and women we were created to be. Even in areas unrelated to pornography, courage is a critical component of the Christian walk. We must be bold in our faith, uncompromising in our values and a light in a dark world.
Identify the fear and cowardice that has kept you living safely in your foxhole. Write down ways you have been passive and unassertive with your spouse, children, and work. What would you be doing with your life if you knew you couldn’t fail?
“God, many times I have failed to act courageously when given the chance. Please forgive me and expose the fear in my life. Help me to boldly live the life You have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Traylor Lovvorn is a husband, father, writer and the founder of Route1520, a recovery ministry for those living in sexual brokenness. His personal website “Reflections of a Ragamuffin: Grace, Recovery and the Scandalous Gospel” is at www.traylorlovvorn.com.