Don’t Blame God for Your Cowardice

Hiding-behind-plant-smallThe spirit of cowardice lives and thrives in churches these days. It has a corner in the office of many a pastor and makes whimpering sounds familiar to many of us:

“You don’t want to do that. It might rock the boat.”

“Deacon Crenshaw will be upset if you preach that. I wouldn’t.”

“Back off on that vision God gave you. You’re going to lose some members if you push that.”

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“Pastor, you must not oppose the power group in your church. They ran off the last three preachers.”

“The biggest giver in the church is threatening to withhold his tithes if you persist in letting those people come to our church.”

We surely don’t want to offend anyone, do we?

We don’t? Show me that one in the Bible. Jesus didn’t mind offending those who were dead-set on flouting the laws of God and blocking the ministries of the faithful.

Jesus did not mind offending those who were stealing from widows and burdening down the hurting and scoffing at the hungry.

Go ahead and offend them, preacher. Even if you lose your job—and many a faithful pastor has indeed found himself out of the pulpit and selling used cars for a time as a result of his obedience to God. You will have all eternity to be glad you were faithful.

In fact, if I may be so bold to say so, you will be a hero in heaven.

The Holy Spirit makes you courageous, not cowardly.

Pastors and Bible teachers who know nothing of the Greek language know that phobia is Greek for “fear.” And it usually is. But it isn’t in 2 Timothy 1:7.

Forty-seven times, when speaking of fear, the New Testament uses phobos and twice uses eulobeia. But in 2 Timothy 1:7, the word is deilia. There’s a difference in the meanings of these words.

The first, phobos, can be good or bad fear. The second, eulobeia, is always good (a fear of God, for instance). But deilia is bad fear. Most translations of this text make the word to be “timidity,” “fear” or “cowardice.” I like the last.

There is a ton of cowardice among the Lord’s people, and it needs to go.

Cowardice in the pew looks and sounds like this:

  • “I can’t start tithing my income. Why, whatever will we do if we run into a financial crisis? But if I ever have any extra, I’ll start tithing.”
  • “I can’t step out and walk that aisle and give my life to Jesus! What if He sends me to China? Or my friends laugh at me? Or my family punishes me?”
  • “I can’t let the people in our group know I go to church or read my Bible. They will rag me and I’ll be embarrassed.”
  • “I can’t speak up and protest when the school group wants to schedule some event for Sunday morning when we all ought to be in church. I’m afraid.”

God has not given you a spirit of fear of those people, a spirit of cowardliness about speaking up and standing forth, or a spirit of shyness about confessing Jesus.

He has given you the spirit of power! He has given you the spirit of love! He has put within you a sound, clear-thinking mind!

But you have to choose. He forces nothing on you. It’s up to you, friend.

“For God has not given us the spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).


Dr. Joe McKeever writes from the vantage point of more than 60 years as a disciple of Jesus, more than 50 years preaching His gospel and more than 40 years of cartooning for every imaginable Christian publication.

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