There is no courage without fear. Fear is healthy—a natural instinct meant to protect you by signaling danger. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid; what you do when you’re afraid is the only thing that matters.
Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard these statements or their cousins your whole life. Like I did, you may have believed them. Maybe you still do.
When I watched a movie the other night for the fifth or sixth time, my ears perked when the heroine said, “There’s no courage without fear.” I didn’t remember that line had been in the movie. Because before, I had accepted it as truth.
The line sounds nice, doesn’t it? The idea that fear itself isn’t a problem. Fear is such a pervasive emotion, our lives would be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about trying to rid ourselves of it. If we didn’t have to believe there was anything wrong with being afraid. If we could keep tolerating our worries, anxieties, and fears—treating them as a normal part of life, like the world tells us to.
But as I’ve thought more about fear and studied what Scripture has to say, this idea that fear is natural, healthy, and good—the idea that it is necessary for virtues like courage and bravery—has been exposed for what it really is. A lie.
Do these sound familiar, too? Death is a natural part of the circle of life. When people die, they become part of nature, part of all of us.
Or how about this lie? Lust is only human. You can’t help but have sexual thoughts about some people. It’s just a natural instinct that drives our species’ survival.
And here are some more lies you’ll have heard: The truth hurts. Telling a fib is often the nicest thing you can do to protect someone. The old woman was suffering—the kindest thing we could do is end her misery through euthanasia. It’s the only humane thing to do.
There’s a reason Satan is known as “the father of lies” (John 8:44) and “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). His specialty is deception.
The easiest and most effective way for Satan to get us to tolerate sin in our lives is to trick us into believing that our sin isn’t sin at all. Even better is if he can make us believe that sin is actually good!
But, thankfully, the truth about fear is laid out for us in Scripture. Over and over again, God commands us to “fear not,” and “do not fear.” He tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” and to “not be anxious about anything.” Only the fear of God is condoned in the Bible, but that is not the kind of fear that we’re talking about here.
In the Garden of Eden, before the fall of humanity into sin, we were created to be without fear. Fear came into the world with sin. It is no more a “natural” or “useful” part of life than death, lust, or lies.
Fear only exists in our hearts and minds when we aren’t trusting God completely. If we truly trusted Him with every aspect of our lives—trusted that He’s in complete control of every dangerous situation and that He has only good for us all the time—we would never fear.
So fear, then, has nothing to do with virtues like courage and bravery. True courage is defined perfectly in Joshua 1:9, where the Lord says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
There you have it. Courage is not from fear or in existence only because of fear. Courage is being without fear, no matter the danger you may face. Throughout Scripture, we see what happens when fear shows up. It dismantles courage, never inspires it.
But courage rooted in Christ will win out over our fears, so long as we don’t lay down our arms because of the lies of the deceiver. We must stand firm, armed with the Word of God that exposes the lies and gives us the courage we need to have victory over all our fears.
Have you heard the world’s lies about fear? Have you experienced God’s courage to overcome your fears? Please share!