We Need Jesus’s Boldness
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1)
Fear is one of our greatest enemies. Fright can make us sure of that which is entirely unrealistic, imagining that the worst-case scenario is the likely outcome of a situation. Dreading an event, procedure, or even a conversation can cause us to make ineffective choices, to comfort ourselves, rather than do what is reasonable and effective. Fearing pain, we avoid medical procedures and physical therapy. When we are anxious about a speech or program, we tend to go overboard in preparation rather than enjoy the process. If we’re in conflict with someone and afraid of meeting with them, because it will be emotionally painful, we’re like the untrusting in Proverbs 28:1 who “flee when no one pursues.”
In our passage, those who fear their own shadows are compared to people who are “bold as a lion.” Of course, there are things we should fear, and it would be insensible to live as if nothing can ever hurt us. But we must be discerning. Since sin is the root cause of fear, and everything in our world is affected by it, I was curious about what, if anything might frighten a lion, a creature that is no exception to the effects of sin. It makes sense that lions are afraid of larger “mammals like giraffes, hippos and elephants, but they are also afraid of their day-to-day prey.” As I continued to read on the Quora website, I found the following commentary imaginative but preposterous, like some of our fears: “Every time a hunt takes place, their prey animals are going to try their best to resist. Running at high speeds, a perusing lion runs the risk of tendon injury, broken bones, or being stabbed by thorns or broken branches. No antibiotics out on the plains, no surgeons to remove deep slivers. Hellooo tetanus. Closing on the prey animal, the lion could get kicked or gored. Trying for a nice, safe juvenile animal? Now, the lion is up against mom and possibly other herd members. And though they don’t know it, even if the hunt is uneventful, lions can pick up diseases and parasites when they eat their prey.” (1) If lions thought about catching diseases before they started hunting, would they be so bold? Of course, lions probably have a physical memory of injuries, so they are not without some level of fear. But real courage is boldness in the face of fear.
Christian boldness is executed through God’s strength and omnipotence. David defeated Goliath, who frightened everyone, by the Lord’s power. Daniel and his friends trusted God to deliver them from an obsessed king and even a lion. Paul expected God to carry him through beatings, hardships, shipwrecks, and robbers. But most importantly, Jesus Christ boldly left heaven to suffer, to minister, to heal, to be mocked, tortured, atone through an excruciating death, all to be raised to glory and overcome all the fear of sin that would otherwise intimidate us.
Whatever our fears or anxieties this Christmas, let’s rejoice in Christ’s boldness.