Question: "What does the Bible say about bravery / being brave?"
Answer: Bravery is mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. Throughout Scripture, God encourages His people to be brave because He is with them (Isaiah 41:13; Luke 12:7; Revelation 2:10). The command for us to be brave or courageous usually accompanied an instruction that seemed impossible, which indicates that God knows how frail we often feel when the challenge is great.
Some people by nature are risk-takers. Bravery comes easily to them most of the time, but even the courageous have areas that leave them feeling helpless. Others tremble like Chihuahuas at the slightest threat. Scripture commands us not to fear (Isaiah 41:10; 43:5; Luke 12:7), but God knows how we are made (Psalm 103:14), so He gives us reasons to be brave. We can remind ourselves of these reasons whenever we are called upon to face a situation with bravery:
1. God is with us. In Joshua 1:1–9, God gives us the first reason to be brave. He had chosen Joshua as Moses’ successor, and the task was daunting. It would be Joshua, not Moses, who would lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and drive out its pagan inhabitants. Three times in this passage the Lord commands Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” God knew the challenges Joshua would face and the formidable appearance of the enemy. But because the Lord would go with the children of Israel, Joshua could move forward with confidence. He was not alone. The people would not have to fight an overwhelming battle on their own. God would fight for them (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30).
2. Past experiences. David, as a young shepherd boy (1 Samuel 17:12–15), is an example of bravery based on his experience with the Lord. He volunteered to face the giant Goliath because he had seen the Lord deliver him before. His answer to the incredulous King Saul was, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). David stood up bravely to the taunting giant, confident that, because he stood in the strength of the Lord, he would be victorious. He answered Goliath’s challenge with these brave words: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45–47). David’s bravery was not motivated by arrogance or self-promotion but by his conviction that God’s honor was at stake. Someone had to do something about the giant’s blasphemy.
3. God’s plans will never fail. Isaiah 46:9–11 assures us that, no matter what seems to be going on in our world, God is still in control. We may face formidable circumstances, but God is not daunted. He is working behind the scenes to accomplish His good plans. We can be brave when we get the lab results, the layoff notice, or the subpoena if we desire God’s purposes in our lives. We can know that He is working all things together for our good, and that knowledge makes us brave (Romans 8:28).
Bravery is not outward bravado. Bravery is acting in the face of fear; it’s being afraid to do something and doing it anyway. The world provides us with many opportunities to be afraid. Many of those fears are real threats to our lives and families. It is not wrong to be afraid; it is wrong to let fear make our decisions. And that’s where bravery comes in. We are brave when we remind ourselves of all God’s promises and press on in the direction He leads (Philippians 3:14). Choosing to obey Christ in everything, regardless of the personal cost, is the ultimate act of bravery (Luke 9:23).