Courage (Matthew 11:11-12)

Photo by Matan Levanon on Unsplash

Jesus has just told us that in His eyes, John the Baptist is someone who stands above   others, but that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater. Knowing that God honors the humble (that is, the ‘least of us’), one realizes that it is possible to humble oneself to the point of being great in God’s kingdom. But let us not deceive ourselves. We will not become great in the kingdom of heaven without activity. Strenuous activity, marked by significant opposition. Discipline, fortitude, a sturdy mind, courage and determination are the order of the day if we want to humbly submit to God.

For it takes much discipline to submit to God as John the Baptist did, in living in the desert. It takes much fortitude to live a sacrificial lifestyle – like John did – in subsisting on food most would turn away from, all so he could put his full attention to the work God gave him to do. It takes a sturdy mind to persist in doing what the Spirit leads you to do, especially when it is completely counter cultural to the society around you. John did that too – baptizing people for repentance of their sins. Reminding them of their historic call through the Red Sea in leaving Egypt to become the people of God. It takes much courage to call a spade a spade as John did. Especially when those needing rebuke are the very ones who hold societal and political power. 

Scripture records John doing so unabashedly; “…when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Such talk only seems easy if you are so young and inexperienced that your words don’t carry weight. 

It takes strength of character and a steely determination to stare down the opposition, as John the Baptist did when he demanded of the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Further, it takes much dependence on the Holy Spirit to prophesy and speak for God, as John did in saying, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” All these things take mental, emotional and spiritual energy. They take forcefulness in both character and action. 

That is why Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”  It is true of course that there is violent opposition to God’s rule and reign. There has been since Eden. It is also true that the blessings of the Kingdom – including the resources and wealth of the earth – have been and now are being wrestled out of the hands of God’s people by the violent of the earth. But more importantly, what Jesus is saying is that in this present era (prior to His return as King of all), the things of heaven are grasped by those who act decisively. 

Humility is not a synonym for passiveness. While the day will come when the meek will inherit the earth, the blessing of the kingdom of heaven is there only for those who want it enough to decisively act for the Lord, even in the face of much opposition.

Marginalization is the space where we find out where our loves and our allegiances really lie.

Matt Chandler


Let us humble ourselves before God, even as we pour out our lives before Him. He will lift us up in due time.