Christian Cowardice

Have you ever backed down to a wicked man, or simply given way to carnal people because you were sure they would not accept your spiritual advice? Some of you would never do that. Good for you. I have, and fear of bold men is one of the worst temptations I face.

1 Chronicles 27 is just one more passage that lets us know how bad it is to give in to the wicked.

We are not surprised to read that there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the Lord’s sight. 1 Chronicles 27:25 adds, “whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”

Verse 27 tells us, though, that when a prophet spoke to him, he repented in sackcloth and fasted. God even regarded his repentance (v. 29). This probably explains why God helped Ahab defeat the Arameans twice. Apparently, Ahab feared the Lord, but he feared Jezebel more.

His soft heart and his cowardice are revealed in the story of Naboth’s vineyard as well. Naboth was able to stand up to the king, and the king simply mourned and wept over it. Ahab probably knew, too, how important it was to God that each Israelite keep the land of his ancestors. But when Jezebel, who was not a coward, had Naboth killed, Ahab jumped up to take possession of the vineyard.

Cowardice leads to wickedness. It is as much, or more, to be overthrown as any other sin in our life. As with any other sin, the answer is to get closer to God and begin ferociously obeying, strengthening yourself after every failure with repentance, tears, and a renewed commitment in the Holy Spirit. All cowards have their place in the lake of fire, the second death (Rev. 21:8), but God has given us a Spirit of power, love, and a healthy mind so we can overcome fear (2 Pet. 1:7).

For those of you that are like me, prone to cowardice, this is probably a dreadful post, but we have to face our weakness. We cannot continue in it. I can give you this encouragement from the Lord, found in Isaiah 51:12-16:

I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die,
and of the son of man who will be made as grass?
Have you forgotten Yahweh your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens,
and laid the foundations of the earth?
Do you live in fear continually all day because of the fury of the oppressor,
when he prepares to destroy?
Where is the fury of the oppressor?
The captive exile will speedily be freed.
He will not die and go down into the pit.
His bread won’t fail.
For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar.
Yahweh of Armies is his name.
I have put my words in your mouth
and have covered you in the shadow of my hand,
that I may plant the heavens,
and lay the foundations of the earth,
and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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8 Responses to Christian Cowardice

  1. Paul Pavao says:

    I don’t think a blog post can cover specific situations. Yes, there are times when we should not throw pearls before swine. I would not have used “wicked colleague” in what I said, though wicked people should be stood up to if we can help. I used “carnal,” and I know from experience how carnal people can react to spiritual advice, but sometimes God backs it up. I think people know when they should have said something, but did not. Interacting with humans, saved or not, is an art, and it is an art best practiced with courage, not cowardice.

    • Part of it for me is mot knowing what to say, sometimes and I find it frustrating. A recently divorced colleague of mine is currently regularly practically boasting about the fact that he is now seeing (and sleeping with) two-three different women. He sometimes phrases the various message predicaments he gets into with these women (and his ex wife) as if he’s got a bit of a problem on his hands, but really he seems very pleased with himself.

      He also repeatly says “I’m doing nothing wrong” to justify himself, even though he clearly is. I really just don’t know what to say.

      Not knowing what to say and how to say things at work is another cause of frustration and condemnation in my life. All too often I end up thinking “well if you were a REAL Christian you would have said or done XY&Z etc.”

      Jon

      • Paul Pavao says:

        Hi Jon. I would tell that person God thinks what they are doing is wrong, then see what happens from there. What they think about Jesus would affect how I would say it. I had a boss once who was thinking of leaving his wife for a younger girl he met. He had two boys, about ages 10 and 12. He told me that he had asked his Lutheran pastor about it. I said, “He told you that you were sinning, right?”

        He actually took my advice for a while, then told me one day that he was at the pool with his wife and women who have had babies just don’t look like they did before. I told him, “You did that to her, and now you have sons you should be taken care of.” I don’t remember what he said back, but I do remember the manager told him, “Ignore Paul. He has to say that because he is a Christian.” In the end, he left his wife, I told him it was an awful thing to do and inexcusable. He was a hothead, but I guess I had earned his respect because he never got mad at me. I would have preferred anger if that would have compelled him to stay with his wife.

        • Thanks. I would need incredible boldness to say something like that to him, but maybe I should. He is totally unchurched and an atheist/agnostic as far as I know.

          Another issue I am facing in my work place (I’m a teacher at a school) is some of the obnoxious ideology being promoted under the guise of “equality and inclusion” including transgenderism and wokeness. I did pluck up the courage the other week to explain clearly and calmly to a couple of colleagues why I reject contemporary gender theory from a my perspective as a Christian (but also that I want to have compassion on those that genuinely struggle with disphoria).

          That stuff can be scary as there are already plenty of examples over here of people getting fired, “cancelled” and even in trouble with the police for having the “wrong” views.

          Pleae pray for me. This stuff – in addition to the other spiritual struggles I have – seems overwhelming at times.

          Jon

          • Paul Pavao says:

            I will pray for your spiritual strength. I am aware how frightening it can be for truth to cause problems in my life. I have faced that over and over, not just for things that are “Christian.” I had to tell my wife that I was convinced evolution happened! I don’t know how much empathy I can offer because I have been so used to being rejected, even since elementary school, that rejection doesn’t hurt me like it does others. On the other hand, in Europe and North America, the day is coming when we have to tell the truth. Gender dysphoria is a mental illness that should be cured, not a healthy desire that should be fulfilled. In saying so, you are not even being a Christian, necessarily, just a good teacher with common sense. If you get fired for that, what can we do. If the world gets that bad, we are going to have to look to Jesus for our daily bread.

    • Pilgrim says:

      I think also it may be related to this view that there is no point in rebuking anyone (or advising) based on our christian worldview while they reject it altogether. So people who adhere to this view would say: there is no point in telling your friend he should not live with his girlfriend before wedding since you and him come from 180 degree opposite worldviews and he has no foundation of right, wrong, sin etc. to even react properly to your argument. Rather, he should be first taught about God and the gospel and if he believes, then you deal with the rest.
      That view does make some sense to me, perhaps you could share your opinion on this?

      • Paul Pavao says:

        That view makes sense to me, but I can tell the difference, personally, between withholding advice out of wisdom, not throwing pearls before pigs, and being afraid to give God’s opinion an a matter. I don’t mind giving God’s opinion on a matter even to atheists. Most of the time I don’t think that is pearls to pigs, but wisdom to fools. It does take wisdom to know when to speak to fools, but there is a passage in Ezekiel about warning those who will perish if they continue in their ways. Again, the best warning is given at the wisest time and in the wisest way, but if a person is not wise yet, then just warn them and hope the Holy Spirit follows with conviction!

  2. Pilgrim says:

    I think I need to understand what situations you specifically mean. I do find in this quote from Isaiah, and others in NT, that we are not be afraid of people who may persecute us more than we should fear God. In other words, fear should not lead us to abandon or deny the Lord. But when we don’t give spiritual advice to a wicked colleague, there may be a bit of fear there that he may respond with mockery, but also often I think we do it because the person is hardened towards God and its simply throwing pearls before the swine.

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