Virtue Requires Courage and Risk

By: Lukas Naugle

In some recent reading I have found C.S. Lewis and John Piper especially illuminating on the necessity of risk and courage.

C.S. Lewis wrote on courage in The Screwtape Letters:

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.

A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions.

Pilate was merciful till it became risky. (137-8)

And John Piper wrote on risk in Don’t Waste Your Life:

Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother’s wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. Jesus had no criticism for him, only the highest praise (Matthew 11:11).

Paul risked going up to Jerusalem to complete his ministry to the poor. He was beaten and thrown in prison for two years and then shipped off to Rome and executed there two years later. And he did right to risk his life for the cause of Christ. How many graves are there in Africa and Asia because thousands of young missionaries were freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the enchantment of security and then risked their lives to make much of Christ among the unreached peoples of the world!

And now what about you? Are you caught in the enchantment of security, paralyzed from taking any risks for the cause of God? Or have you been freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the mirage of Egyptian safety and comfort? Do you men ever say with Joab, “For the sake of the name, I’ll try it! And may the Lord do what seems good to him”? Do you women ever say with Esther, “For the sake of Christ, I’ll try it! And if I perish, I perish”? (89-90)

We also do not have to go far to know the mind of God on risk and courage. One example of many is Hebrews 11:35-39:

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Would you join me in praying for those in your family, friends, church, and brothers and sisters around the world who have need of courage today in the face of much risk?

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