The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “coward” in its noun form as…
“A person who is contemptibly lacking in the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.”
Coward in it’s adjectival form is defined as someone being …
“Excessively afraid of danger or pain”
Cowardice is not approved of by God. In fact it’s downright dangerous, much more dangerous than the momentary loss, danger or pain that a coward chooses to avoid.
Revelation 21:8 speaking of final judgment is very strong in its description of the kinds of thing that we must repent of in this life through Christ and it starts with calling out the Cowards.
Revelation 21:8 is strong stuff.
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
So with those strong words in mind, where cowardice appears as the first indictment against the damned it is good to examine cowardice.
what does it looks like when it shows up in our world and how can we ourselves avoid being cowards?
To clarify, cowardice is not just fear Cowardice is much more than fear, it is excessive fear. Every one deals with fear and it can show up in any heart yet that does not mean we are a coward. Cowardice is excessive fear leading one to act, or fail to act, solely based on one’s own self-interest.
At the heart of cowardice is the primary motivation of self-preservation and a complete concern for one’s own well-being and comfort in the face of a situation that requires self sacrifice or would cause, personal loss or pain. The coward calculates everything through a grid that centers on the self and selfish desires.
But what does cowardice look like?
Here is a short-list of examples of the “Common Coward”.
Cowards can look like the person who takes another persons life in order to gain worldly possessions, position or seeks to destroy another persons life in retaliation for injured pride. Some even do under a religious guise. A “Murderer” is a Coward.
Cowards can look like the guy that fathers a child and refuses to take his responsibility to raise that child. He gives no concern for the well being of the child or the mother. Mothers are certainly capable of this too. An “Irresponsible” person is a Coward.
Cowards can look like the person who focuses on career and builds a comfortable nest egg and never gives to the causes of others around them who may be in desperate need. (remember the rich man and Lazarus). Some may give but mainly for being recognized by others. A “Greedy” person is a Coward.
Cowards can look like the person who refuses to work (though they have able bodies and minds along with opportunities to do so) because they can lean on others to keep them comfortable. A “Slothful” person is a Coward.
Cowards can look like the person who insulates themselves against unpleasant thoughts concerning their own mortality, Gods existence, and whether there exists an ultimate purpose for their life. They are their own God and make an Idol out of themselves. An “Idolator” is a Coward.
This is by no means a complete list but I think the point has been made.
God requires of us to trust and obey even if it will cause discomfort, loss, pain and rejection.
In the process you will enjoy the fruit of the Holy Spirit and partake of the divine nature. No one partaking of the divine nature can be a Coward.
The opposite of cowardice is not Heroism but it is Faith in God, (which may certainly lead to actions of heroic proportion).
I say to myself ….and to all.
Don’t be a coward.
Follow Christ wherever he may lead.
God is able to make us stand in Christ in any and every situation.