The words are those of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The place was Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. The General's father was the 30th American President, his cousin, Franklin, was the current President. Ted Jr., at 57 years old, limping on a bad leg injured in World War I, was the oldest soldier on the "beach" that day. His troops had landed several hundred yards from where they should have been, and enemy bullets and artillery shells were thick in the air. Big decisions were ahead.
Plans made prior to the D-Day assault had to be altered, and Roosevelt was in charge. They were in the wrong area, but he said, "We'll start the war from here!" He was all over that beach and into the interior with his troops, bullets flying. His leadership that day is still extolled by friend and foe alike. Hours later, a massive heart attack ended his life.
Why tell that story here? Some thought him foolish to be there, but his courage was seen by all. Why is it that courage is so admired among men? And why is bravery and courage so common in battle, but so hard to find in every day life?
What is Courage?
Defining courage is not easy. Mark Twain said courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of fear. Ted Roosevelt's friend, General Omar Bradley, called courage the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.
Biblically, men and women of courage were those who did the right thing even when it was neither easy nor popular. Jesus told His disciples they would face opposition – even death. Hard to take? Of course, but that merely makes their courage more obvious.
Bible Examples of Courage
Yes, we could speak of Gideon's courage facing the enemy with only a handful of men. Moses and Joshua led Israel in battle against their enemies. Samson, though often weak, had a courage in battle that he could not maintain in life.
Daniel and his friends exhibited great courage, as did Esther and Noah's wife. Simon Peter, though often weak, later spoke and acted with great courage under pressure.
John Mark, perhaps hesitant at first, was later regarded as "useful in the ministry" by Paul. That too is courage.
How Do We Show Courage Today?
Bullets and swords are rarely a threat today for most of us. What is most needful in Christians today is what man calls "moral courage." It is also known to be the most rare in modern man – and especially rare among Christians.
Excuses are easy to find, but they will not do. I must – all of us must – find the fortitude to tell our friends and family about Christ. For their sake as well as our own.
A former statesman once stated:
"For every ten men who are willing to face the guns of an enemy there is only one willing to face the disapproval of his fellows, the censure of his colleagues, the wrath of his society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."
How do we exhibit courage today? By following the steps of Jesus, even when they lead in the opposite direction of the way our family or friends prefer to go. We must do the right thing even when others want to do the easy thing.
Qualities of Courage
Those who walked with Jesus did so in the midst of friend and foe alike. What qualities did they exhibit when allowing their courage to take Jesus' message to those lost in their? Could we not do as many disciples did when they followed Paul as he followed Christ? See 1 Corinthians 11:1. If we do so, what qualities will we possess and reveal?
- We will put souls before gaining possessions. We will expend our time and our funds as Jesus did, seeking and saving the lost, Luke 19:10.
- We will subdue our fear and will be bold in showing others the way to heaven by our words and by our examples, Matthew 5:13-16, Acts 4-5, Philippians 2:14-17.
- We will put the welfare of others before our own, and we will truly "love one another," John 13:34-35.
- We will put our priorities in proper order, seeking "first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," Matthew 6:33.
- We will be steadfast in our faith, and longsuffering with each other.
- We will encourage others when that is needed and exhort and correct each other when that is needed, always motivated by genuine love.
- We will be honest with God's Truth, always giving respect to the Bible and all that it teaches.
Why is it so hard for us to talk to our friends and family about their souls? Does it reveal a lack of courage in us? Or a lack of love?
Ted Roosevelt, Jr. saw that someone had to get things going because he knew what would happen if they failed. Is it not time for us to "start the war from here," showing real courage right in our home town where it is so needed? The souls of our friends – as well as our own – depend on it.