How Cowardice Enables Abusers
The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8)
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:5-7)
Evil must be named. Abusers must be exposed and called to give account. Victims must be believed and protected. The cry of the oppressed must be heard. And all of this requires — courage. Why? Because those who stand with the oppressed and against the wicked will become the evil man’s enemy and thus a target for his wicked tactics. Most of our readers know this full well. Just tell an abuser “no” or draw some boundary with him, and watch the fangs come out.
The enemy of courage is, of course, cowardice. As you can see from the Scriptures quoted above, the Lord does not take kindly to cowards. In fact, you cannot enter the kingdom of Christ if you are a coward. Cowards will not be found in the New Heavens and Earth. Cowards are grouped by the Lord along with the faithless, the detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars. The whole batch of them are headed for hell unless they repent and turn in faith to Christ. In contrast, Joshua was courageous. He courageously obeyed God’s Word. He courageously led God’s people against the enemy and by faith took possession of the inheritance. He was very courageous. He was a man of faith.
Lately I have seen courage and cowardice in action. Sadly, more cowardice than courage. One of the chief reasons that pastors, church leaders, church members and Christians in general quite consistently fail the abuse victim is simply and bluntly put — they are cowards. They are not willing to pay the price of standing for righteousness. Are they Christians at all? Time will tell, but apart from eventually repenting of cowardliness, well, as for the cowardly, their portion is in the lake that burns with fire. True religion, true Christianity, says James, is:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
Cowardice permits the wicked to flourish. It stands by when it should run to. It hesitates when action is called for. It remains silent when it is time to speak. Cowardice, you see, does not trust in Christ. Cowardice refuses to take up its cross and follow the Lord. Cowardice is evil and it allies itself with the wicked. Cowardice denies Christ, and this is what Jesus has to say about that:
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Cowardliness is the fertile soil of evil. Cowards permit the wicked to take root and grow. In any human society, wicked men will inevitably come along seeking power and control for their own self-glory. Unless Christ’s people courageously stand against this kind, the oppressor will take the reigns of power and enslave others.
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:9-11)
“I will bring up what he is doing.” There it is. John names names. John openly writes to the whole church — nowadays he would hit “reply all” so everyone could see it — and announce that Diotrephes is doing evil and must be called to account. Cowards don’t do this. Cowards remain silent. Cowards let Diotrephes take over and lead Christ’s flock astray. Many, many local churches have long ago failed to do battle when battle was necessary and the whole church now remains under the evil power of Diotrephes.
Cowardice fosters abusers and their evil. Cowardice throws victims to the wolves. Cowardice claims that Christians must always be “nice and loving” when they long ago distorted the biblical notion of love into some monstrosity Christ knows nothing of. Cowardice refuses to acknowledge the real nature of the wicked, insisting that they are just “misguided brothers in Christ.” The cowardly are quite happy to sit back and let others shed blood doing battle with evil, not having to pay a price themselves, all the time quite ready to give “advice” and “criticism” to those who are actually in the frontline trenches.
Cowards will not inherit the kingdom of God. A Day is coming when we will never have to see them again.