Courage is an important virtue for the Christian. Courage to speak the Word is important. Many will attack you for your faith and it can take courage to share the truth. However, it’s not this courage I want to address. This courage is important. It is also something you often hear about.
The courage I want to address is courage in the face of the Word itself. The Word is probing. It can take a certain courage to look honestly at the Word when it convicts or condemns us for an action—especially a favorite sin, or besetting addiction. While we must have courage to face what the Word tells us about ourselves, this too is not exactly what I want to address.
The area of courage that I want to address is the courage to take what the Word tells us at face value and to actually accept it, even we would rather it say something else. The church is full of teachings that have nothing to do with the Word. Some speak in the areas of silence—where the scripture says nothing. These are fine. However, some actually contradict the very Word itself. This happens for various reasons—cherry picking, lack of context, misunderstanding about basic argument or the rules of hermeneutics, etc. However, when we discover that something is wrong, even if taught by a beloved teacher, then it must be jettisoned. Contradictions of the Word must not be tolerated, even from those we hold dear.
Many of us hear biblical truths taught that contradict these beloved teachers and we are wrongly tempted to reject the newly learned truth to protect the relationship with the teacher. This is especially hard when the teacher is a parent or a relative. I don’t have to cut off relationship with friends because they disagree with me on scripture. Neither do I have to end or repudiate a relationship with a beloved teacher because I discover that teacher erred on some detail. We must prefer the truth to the relationship, so if it is “accept the lie or lose the relationship,” then we courageously choose the truth.
This brings me to the other side to that coin of courage. We as teachers (and parents) should be able to celebrate when our people (and children) discover truths that we missed. If they are wrong, then stick to your guns, but have the courage to disagree while holding to the relationship. However, if they are right and show us from the Word that we too are in error, then we leaders should have the courage to accept that. One reason this is so hard, is the fear that such an admission will undermine our authority to speak. It should do no such thing. A quickness to accept correction and change with newly learned details will actually give you greater respect among those you lead. Holding to falsehood because of pride will undermine any respect your people may have for you.
Look into the Word of God with courage—courage to hear it; courage to bear what it says; courage to be changed by it; courage to stand upon it; courage to stand for it.