Today is the first article in a series that we’ve decided to call “Be of Good Courage.” Over the next few weeks of summer, you’ll see our columnists writing about what it means to have courage in the Lord. What it means to face fear. We hope that this topic strengthens your spirit and increases your faith.
Many, many years ago the Lord planted a tree.
That tree grew and grew and grew so that if one climbed onto it, one could see what was happening down below.
Years later, after that tree was grown and mature, a man climbed up it so he could see the same One who planted said tree.
And that man was Zacchaeus.
We’re all familiar with this story, this small man who ran ahead to climb a tree so he could see Jesus.
His story is found in Luke 19:1–10, and a lot of times we like to applaud Zacchaeus for verses 1–6, where he climbs the tree, Jesus sees him in it, and calls him down.
And yes, that’s pretty amazing. Could I climb some tree at any given moment? Would I climb some tree at any given moment?
Most likely not.
But Zacchaeus did.
But when we’re talking about courage…well, courage comes post-verse 6. It comes when Jesus has said that He will stay at Zacchaeus’ house and Zacchaeus answers the Lord by declaring that he will give up half of his goods and return what he’s unlawfully taken. He declares a fundamental change in his life from that moment forward, and Jesus replies by saying that salvation has come to his home.
That moment when Zacchaeus takes the stand to make a change–that is courage.
If we apply this to everyday life, we can imagine that climbing the tree is going to church. Yes, sometimes it takes some serious courage to go to church and face the truth.
But that courage doesn’t really apply until we reach for the bread or the wine, or go to sit up in the chair, or stand up to testify.
Courage doesn’t really come into play until we are taking an active role in living out God’s truth.
Zacchaeus sitting on the sidelines (even though he was in a tree) is you and I sitting in the pew every Sunday.
Zacchaeus making the declaration that his life has changed for good is you and I declaring our intentions at the river’s shore.
When we reach for the bread or the wine, we are reaffirming where our hearts lie. When we sit in the chair for prayer, we are publicly declaring that we believe that, right then and there, God can perform a miracle.
And when we stand up to testify, we are once again publicly recognizing God’s goodness and power in our lives.
Courage isn’t just sitting in a pew. Courage is taking an active role in the meeting. It’s living out what God has called you to do at any given moment.
We like to attribute courage a lot of times to those big moments: Peter on the water, Esther going to the king, Abraham about to drive the knife into his son. And, yes, those are big moments of courage, of obedience, of desperation.
But that quiet courage that matches God’s still, small voice comes when we align our hearts with God’s truth, when we declare that, yes, God’s Word is true and alive and that we are alive because of it.
Ultimately, I love the story of Zacchaeus (we short people finally get some love) because of his so-very-public declaration. I like to believe that I would’ve been so quick to change my ways, but I’ve heard testimony after testimony of brothers and sisters saying that it took them years to come to the truth of God’s love for them.
Zacchaeus needed only the length of time it took him to step down from his vantage point in the tree.
So, brothers and sisters, courage is a lot of things, it’s a lot of moments, but it’s ultimately found in how we answer when Jesus calls.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.