The word courage is often used in ways that vary based on who is using it. For those who are not Christians, courage is often used to describe someone who has taken a stand to live a lifestyle that defies Biblical teaching. However, Christians see the word courage as being used when someone takes a stand for Biblical principles. This makes it important to understand how does the Bible define courage?
How is courage commonly defined?
The common definition of the word courage is (1): (Noun)”The ability to do something that frightens one.” It originates from Middle English (denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings): from Old French corage, from Latin cor “heart.” Simply stated, courage is commonly defined as being motivated from the heart to do something brave.
What does the Bible say about courage?
Biblical courage, is also defined as the ability to do something brave out of a motivation of the heart. However, the Bible talks about what motivates the heart to produce courage. The Bible addresses these motivations as either being good or bad.
Good courage always relies upon the supernatural power of God to strengthen and motivate believers to be courageous as children of God (Romans 5:3-5). Bad courage relies on human abilities and motives such as the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride (James 1:19-27; 1 John 2:15-16). The Bible teaches about these two versions of courage as follows:
- The hearts of believers who show good courage are strengthened by God: Psalms 27:14; Psalms 31:24
- God inspires believers to encourage one another: Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28; Acts 28:15; Ephesians 4; Hebrews 10:24
- Good courage is pleasing to God: Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 23; Joshua 1:1-18; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 19:11; Psalms 27:14; Psalms 31:24
- Believers and non-believers alike can demonstrate and inspire others to demonstrate bad courage: Deuteronomy 13:6-8; 2 Samuel 1:14-17; Psalms 64:5’ Proverbs 1:10; Ephesians 6:4
- God does not approve of evil courage: Psalms 55:19; Amos 2:16; Romans 3:10-17
What are examples of courage we can learn from in the Bible?
1. The story of Joshua and Caleb teaches us to have the courage to trust the Lord when things look impossible (Numbers 13-14)
God told Moses to send 12 spies into the Promised Land to get information about what was there so the Israelites would know what God was going to give to them. When the spies returned, 10 of the spies told of how wonderful the land was, but how they could never take the land because it there were too any people and it was too well defended.
The remaining two spies, Joshua and Caleb also told of how wonderful the land was, but unlike the other 10 spies, they were ready to immediately go and take the land. Because the people doubted Joshua and Caleb based on the report of the other 10 spies, Joshua and Caleb were later chosen by God to lead the people into the Promised Land.
Joshua and Caleb’s courage demonstrates that when others doubt God, remaining courageous in the Lord will result in God’s blessing and the demise of those who doubt God.
2. The story of David and Goliath teaches us to have courage by trusting in the experience and skills that God has given us when dealing with adversity (1 Samuel 16-17)
David was a shepherd  boy that was chosen by God to be the future king of Israel when he stepped forward to fight a giant that was 18 feet, 6 inches tall. While delivering food to his brothers, David saw that the giant was challenging the Israelites to fight. David was dismayed that no one would defend God’s people so he took courage in the belief that God would dispense with this giant no matter what the odds.
David pleaded with King Saul to let him fight the giant. David was confident that since the Lord had enabled him to kill lions that would often attack the sheep, the Lord would do the same with the giant. When King Saul consented to David’s request, David refused the king’s armor and went to fight the giant with only his staff and a sling.
When the giant saw David, he insulted David and the Israelites. The giant said he would kill David and feed Him to the birds, but David courageously replied that he would fight the giant in the name of the Lord and the God of the armies of Israel. David then took his sling and loaded it with a stone and launched it at the giant. The stone hit the giant in the forehead and killed him.
3. The story of Peter and John teaches us to have courage when we are persecuted for doing what God wants us to do (Acts 3-4)
Peter and John went to the temple to pray when they encountered a disabled beggar. When the man asked them for money, they instead healed him. The healing drew a large crowd so Peter  started sharing the gospel. This upset the religious leaders and they had Peter and John put in jail.
The next day, the religious leaders held a hearing and told Peter and John to stop teaching the people about Jesus. Peter replied that they could not honor their command because they were eyewitnesses to what Jesus did. The religious leaders threatened them and let them go.
Later, Peter and John were again publicly healing and sharing the gospel. Once again they were taken into custody. This time the religious leaders were upset that the whole city had heard about the healing and teaching of Peter and John. Peter again stood up and told them that they would rather obey God than them. Upon hearing this, the religious leaders wanted to kill Peter and John, but instead, had them beaten and released. After their release, Peter and John praised God that they suffered for the name of Jesus.
Courage is defined as being motivated from the heart to do something brave. The Bible defines courage as being either good or bad. Good courage relies upon the supernatural power of God to strengthen and motivate believers to be courageous. Bad courage relies on human abilities and motives such as the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride. The Bible gives us many examples of those who had courage to accomplish great things for God.
Take a look at more courage in the Bible: Bible Verses About Courage 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2014). “Courage”. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=courage