Imitating Christ’s Courage


One of the virtues almost universally associated with heroism has been courage. For example, it is almost impossible for most of us to consider its opposite, cowardice, as heroic. Although Christian heroism is far broader than courage alone, certainly courage is an indispensable part of it. The writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus, who ‘endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2), and to ‘consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted’ (12:3). The endurance described here is courage over time. This is not the single-act heroism of a daring exploit that might be over in a few seconds. This is the long-term refusal to give in to fear, threat, discouragement, exhaustion, and pain. . . .

. . . What can any virtue mean if it is without courage? It means that it exists only until it is put to the test, then it crumbles. What is it worth? What is love that loves only until loving is difficult and then turns into hatred? We can see that courage is a hinge pin without which moral character does not hold together. Without it, all of our good qualities disappear in the face of fear, seduction, or discouragement. Being able to imitate Christ in his courage becomes necessary not just for the day when we might hear the sound of people’s cries in a burning house, but for the growth of character itself.

– Dick Keyes, True Heroism In A World of Celebrity Counterfeits (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995), 175,177.

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