by Aubrey Sampson
There’s an old fable about a lion and a mouse. One version of this story explains that the lion caught the mouse in a trap but the mouse, being small and agile, was able to wiggle away. Later, when the lion was caught in a trap, the mouse remembered how scary it felt to be trapped, so she took courage and showed the scary lion some undeserved kindness, setting him free.
It takes great courage to be kind, especially when we are facing scary “lions” in this world.
There’s another story of courage and kindness—a true story—from the scriptures. In Acts chapter four, we read of Peter and John going before a conglomerate of political, church, and police-like leaders known as the Sanhedrin. They were being called to account for an act of kindness, a healing act they had performed in Jesus’ name. After they were questioned and tried, the writer of Acts tells us, “When [the Sanhedrin] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Peter and John were ordinary, untrained men, regular people, just like you and me. For all intents and purposes, they were the mouse – small and common. And they were up against metaphorical lions, their enemies. But they had courage. Why?
They had been with Jesus...
Peter and John had walked with Jesus, learned from Jesus, worshiped Jesus, and were filled with Jesus’s Spirit. And the fact that they had been with Jesus was notable to people who hated Jesus, because they were seeing evidence: miraculous things were happening in Jesus’s name.
There’s a word for all of us here, in days that are increasingly hard and scary – with so much to lament and fear from our natural perspective, so much to make us lose our courage.
But...have you been with Jesus?
Here are three evidences of Peter and John’s “being with Jesus”:
Peter and John declared the gospel in word and deed, and they did it through kindness, compassion, and healing – not arguments or debates. In this day and age with so much vitriol and division and violence, kindness is a pretty low bar. Just be nice to each other, people! But godly kindness takes holy courage.
The kindness the world needs so desperately right now is more than our “being nice” or “sweet” or “polite.” The world does not need watered-down kindness. The world needs God’s transformative kindness and compassion. How did Jesus show kindness to us? By laying his life down for us and so we also ought to lay our lives down for others.
And those who have been shown compassion by God himself when we did not deserve it, Christians should be at the forefront of kindness and compassion.
Have you been with Jesus? He’ll give you the courage you need to be kind.
Peter and John had been with Jesus, and that outweighed anything against them. Jesus’ power and provision, Jesus’s presence and “enoughness” equipped them (and us) with courage for the task at hand.
The Sandhedrin took notice; Peter and John were “common men”: untrained, uneducated, they weren’t Bible scholars. But miracles were happening all around them. Why? Because God does extraordinary things through ordinary people.
The enemy lies about your season of life – you’re too old or too young or too single or too burdened or too uneducated or too sensitive, too confused about who you are.
Do you know what silences those lies of shame?
Being with Jesus. Have you been with Jesus?
When God’s voice is the loudest voice in your life, it shuts down those lies from the enemy. You are who God says you are, no matter what your circumstances or life season seem to say.
Peter and John’s courage made them intimidating to the political and spiritual leaders of the day. They couldn’t deny that what Peter and John were doing was miraculous, because they saw the evidence all around them – the healings, the conversions, the Spirit’s power at work through them.
But the Sanhedrin saw this as a direct threat to their honor, power, and spiritual authority, because Peter and John were standing up against them, essentially saying, “We will not bow down to whatever industrial complex you’ve made of spirituality and of politics—no, no, no – we bow down to one name alone- the name of Jesus. We obey one authority- God’s.”
This is holy courage.
These days are hard and scary...evil seems to be winning. It isn’t, friends. Evil won’t win in the end. Jesus will bring a decisive and swift end to injustice forever. There is no other name with the power to do that.
Have you been with Jesus? His spirit will give you what you need to stand firm and endure.
Because of Jesus’s courage to act kindly towards us on the cross because he made himself as small as a mouse, and faced the lion of sin and death and evil—because of his courageous sacrifice, we are healed, and made courageous in Him.
Have you been with Jesus?
Aubrey Sampson co-planted and serves on the teaching and preaching team at Renewal Church. She is an award-nominated author of three books, including her latest Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything and the co-host of The Common Good Talk Show and the Nothing is Wasted Podcast. Aubrey preaches and speaks around the country at churches and ministry events. She and her husband and three sons live and minister in the Chicagoland area.