Please know that the words I’m choosing to highlight in these posts are not the only words that can be translated as “courage,” “courageous,” “valiant” or “gather up courage,” but they are the common terms. Also know that I am not using every word found in each definition; that would take up a lot of space and you might get bored. If you want to pursue this further (and I hope you do!) check out the “original language tools” at StudyLight).
On to the Greek.
There are so many places in the New Testament where we are encouraged to stand fast, to be bold, to be brave. I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t have the patience to count them all up, but the number of times this concept is mentioned is too numerous to be ignored. Or to be a coincidence. The life of faith is hard. The road can be long and difficult.
But again we will be surprised at the words used to spur us forward on this journey.
Tolmao, meaning “not to dread, endure, bold” places us within our realm of understanding. Brave people are bold. Brave people endure the trials they face. How about the idea of not dreading whatever comes, though? As a self-admitted pessimist, I often dread things. I imagine the worst possible scenario and then assume that it will probably be worse.
Dread makes you run away.
It has never occurred to me that dread and fear are really two sides of the same coin. It might be possible to dread something without fearing it, but it’s not possible to fear something without dreading it. And dread blows things completely out of proportion. What you dread, you hate. And what you hate…well, you often fear. So you avoid it.
Tharseo and euthymeo have similar definitions, meaning “good cheer, good spirits, glad, cheerful.” When the New Testament authors encourage us to be brave, they also encourage us to be cheerful.
Is it possible to be brave without being cheerful?
I have trouble wrapping my mind around that. I’ve always imagined bravery as this sort of grim determination. A frown. Gritted teeth. You don’t at all enjoy what you’re doing, but you’re doing it because you know it’s right. Now I wonder. If you’re only ever operating from a place of obligation, won’t you eventually give up? Really, the only answer to that is a solid “yes.” Obligation only gets you so far before the inherently selfish bent of our souls takes over.
Gladness and cheerfulness are emotions that I connect with love. I feel happy when I’m around people I love or when I’m doing something I love. So maybe this admonition to be courageous is also a reminder of the love God has for us and the love we have for Him. I don’t know about you, but I need reminding of that. Often.
These three words carry with them other meanings, words like “hard, stout, firm, determined, resolute, secure, solid.” A brave person knows what she is about. She has conviction. She operates from a placing of knowing.
For all of the posts in the 31 Days: Brave series, go here.