A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for

I must be getting old. I’m feeling crotchety.

Take, for instance, the fact that I feel that most American Christians need to revisit the actual definition of courage.

Here it is:

COURAGE: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

What passes as courage these days is a watered-down brew of the stuff required to stand alone in front of Communist tanks, risk years of separation from loved ones in a Siberian work camp, or face-down hungry lions.

We pampered Americans think it takes courage to mention our church at work, to tell a friend that adultery is wrong even if she’s “really in love,” or to not drink at the family party even though our siblings will mock.

Those things take an everyday commitment to truth. They take nerve, gumption, and a certain chutzpah but surely, courage is measured on a greater scale.

In other countries, to choose to be a Christian means economic suicide. It means risking your children’s education and opportunities for betterment. It means possible physical harm, loss of property, imprisonment, or death. Courage for these believers is about facing more than disapproval, discomfort, or loss of social standing.

Speaking up about Christ at the office or voicing moral concerns to friends are acts to be commended and encouraged. These are acts that build the muscles for courage but let us not set the bar too low for such a mighty virtue lest we fall short when the task requires greater heart.

And courage comes from the heart because it is the fruit of properly placed affections. God says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18


“ Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” I Corinthians 16:13-14

Love is a pre-requisite for courage. Consider that. Lack of love leads to cowardice.

One of the most haunting stories in history, in my opinion, is that Marco Polo was sent to accompany two priests with the plan of telling the people under Kublai Khan about Jesus Christ. Somewhere in the mountains, the priests lost heart – their courage failed them – and they turned back.

Who knows what history would have been written had they forged on – fueled by love of Christ and love for the people of a wild, unknown kingdom?

Perhaps, years in the courts at Rome had not prepared them to exercise true courage.

Let us be raising a generation of believers rooted in love with courage that rises to the true definition and to the dangers yet to come.


“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” William Shedd

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1 Comment

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  1. David Todd says:

    Good post, Lori. The need for courage in all areas of life, especially in our Christian walk, is something to think about. The idea that courage doesn’t come without prior exercise is a good one.