By David Faust
A medical school student preparing to become a doctor refuses to receive training about how to perform abortions. As a result, he gets a lower grade in the class—the only time he earns anything less than an A.
A young woman falls in love with a handsome boyfriend who says all the right things, until his smooth talk takes an aggressive turn and he pressures her to have sex with him. It breaks her heart, but she breaks off the relationship.
A media company lands a lucrative contract with a new client. The deal will bring in a lot of money, but it involves marketing pornography. When an employee voices his objections, his boss refuses to budge. Ultimately the employee resigns.
A 10-year-old girl loves learning Bible stories, but no one else in her family goes to church. Undaunted, she gets up every Sunday morning and, with her parents’ consent but without their encouragement, she walks to church by herself.
A depressed husband disconnects emotionally from his wife. The woman’s friends advise her to go to bars and find a man who will show her a good time. Instead she accompanies her husband to a counselor so they can work on their marriage together.
We admire public acts of heroism. But more often, courage—or the lack of it—shows up in private decisions.
The king of Egypt ordered the slaughter of male infants born to Hebrew mothers. The midwives, however, defied his cruel order. Then Pharaoh commanded that all Hebrew baby boys should be thrown into the river, but a brave woman refused to obey. “By faith” (Hebrews 11:23) she placed her 3-month-old in a basket in the Nile, saving the life of the boy who eventually led God’s people out of Egypt (Exodus 1:15–2:10).
When King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to fall down and worship a 90-foot-tall gold image, three of his prominent subjects refused to comply. Revealing the depth of their faith, they told the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it
. . . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17, 18). The convictions of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego literally were tested by fire.
Led by the Holy Spirit, the first-century church learned when to get along with the culture and when to stand apart from it. There were days when Jesus’ followers enjoyed “the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). There were times in the book of Acts when civil authorities protected God’s messengers. But when the religious rulers ordered the apostles not to speak or teach in Jesus’ name, Peter and John made their convictions clear: “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (4:12-20). Peter insisted, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (5:29).
The apostles were threatened, imprisoned, and flogged, but they kept on preaching and the church kept on praying. A strange sort of joy filled the believers “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (5:41, 42).
Have you experienced the strange sort of joy that comes from doing the right thing, even when it hurts?
1. Are you a person of courage and conviction?
2. How do you respond when you’re pressured to follow ungodly advice?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for January 12, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Genesis 25, 26
Genesis 27, 28
Genesis 29, 30