courage n. The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution;
fearlessness n. without fear; not afraid; brave
Many men are fearless - or at very least they are fearless when endeavoring to do something dangerous. They jump out of planes, flip motorcycles, ride bulls, and joust, all without the slightest hesitation. While these actions may be quite fearless, it’s not always obvious if the men who engage in them are courageous. The world is full of men who fearlessly conquer in business and sports, men who conquer women and even their children. However, many times the collateral damage is quite extensive. They receive the promotion but their colleagues feel manipulated. They win an MVP award but their team is bumped out in the first round. They date beautiful women but often find themselves alone. Their kids are successful but they won’t speak to them. You see every little boy has been told time and again to not be afraid, so many have learned to ignore their feelings and to basically attack anything within their heart that is weak or fearful. While it is true that young men need to face their fears, facing your fears is quite different than shutting up your heart and ignoring those fears altogether.
Courage is quite different. While most courageous actions are fearless, many fearless actions wouldn’t be described as courageous. A current popular television show includes the hosts participating in ridiculous stunts and pranks - definitely fearless, but not necessarily courageous. Courage is the spirit that rises up within us to meet and overcome the fear - not for the sake of overcoming the fear but for the sake of something larger, something better. Courage recognizes the danger, but rises up to overcome the fear - not with brute force but with self possession, confidence and resolution. Courage enables the young man to resist his peers. “Being fearless” will be used by his peers to make him fall in line. (i.e. “take a drink - what are you, scared?”) Courage will cause a man to run to the fire for the sake of those being burned. Courage will keep a young woman at peace in the middle of a thunderstorm so as not to scare her child.In his own way Paul Suda demonstrated courage in last week’s joust. Even though he was a bit afraid of gettinghurt before the match, he still got back on his horse when his chances of winning were eliminated, and entered the list against Josh Knowles.
This subject makes me think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He wasn’t fearless, He was courageous. He knew the trial that was before Him and He sweated blood. He wanted that cup to pass from Him but nevertheless He courageously drank from the cup so that we could have that same courageous Spirit inside of us.