A coward lacks the courage to do difficult, dangerous or unpleasant things because they are scared of the consequences, timid and fearful. The Bible states, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified...for the Lord your God goes with you; He will

Overcome cowardice with courage

never leave you or forsake you" with His power and presence with us (Deut 31:6; Ps 37:27,28; Isa 51:12; Phil 4:5-9; 2 Tim 1:7; Heb 13:5). Sometimes we fail to take God's Word seriously or call out to Him for help and are overwhelmed with the visible obstacles and enslave ourselves in fear for the Bible states, “The fear of man brings a snare” (Prov 29:25; Gal 2:12).

Peter and the other disciples were scared and denied knowing Jesus (Mt 26:31-36,69-75). Before we condemn them, we must ask ourselves if we have acted in a similar way. However, don't wallow in past failures they do not have to determine our future, instead resolve to openly acknowledge you are a disciple of Jesus. Peter overcame his anguish and empowered by the Holy Spirit became a fearless soul winner and church leader (Act 2:14,38, 4:8,13). Paul fearlessly preached the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ even though he was persecuted for this, stating, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 4:12; 2 Cor 4:8,9). Paul stated, "In fact, all who live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim 3:12). The Bible has a solemn warning stating cowards who turn back from following Christ, afraid to declare they are friends of God and so compromise on their professed faith, together with those who make a consistent denial of faith will be excluded from heaven (Mt 10:33; Rev 21:8).

Acting in a cowardly manner and not acknowledging being a follower of Christ is not living according to the way of the cross which requires us to give up the preservation of our reputation rather than 'fitting in with the

Do I identify myself as a Christ follower?

crowd' (Mt 16:24). Although many people secretly believed in Jesus when He was on earth, they did not openly acknowledge this, fearful of the social consequences yet the Bible states, "If we disown Him, He will disown us" (Jn 9:22, 12:42,43; 2 Tim 2:12). In contrast, throughout many countries today there are multitudes of 'secret believers' who if they exposed themselves would be martyred for their faith. They follow Christ as much as they can, often meeting secretly 'behind closed doors' with other believers. Sometimes they are 'discovered' with serious consequences when they refuse to recant (renounce their faith or deny Christ). The Bible terms it, "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Rev 12:11). Jesus said, those who are persecuted because of their loyalty to Him, along with those who die for Him rather than disown Him will go to Heaven so don't be afraid of those who can only destroy your physical body but can't touch your soul for in the last days persecution and martyrdom because of our allegiance to Christ will be common (Mt 5:10, 10:28, 24:9).

We are to consistently share the whole gospel as contained within the Word of God, not shrinking back from the reality that His love and grace must be balanced with His justice and judgment (Act 20:27; 2 Tim 3:16,17). It's commands and principles are what we are to pattern our life on, and the standard by which we will be judged (Jn 12:48). Let us be fearless ambassadors of Christ and stand strong for the glory of God our Saviour.

See also: courage, fear, peer pressure, persecution.