Opinion: The Death Of The Cowardly
by Matheus Yuhlung
Day before yesterday I was reading an article entitled What Will Heaven Be Like by Rich Deem; and while I was reading through – my attention stood affixed on a specific scripture that he had quoted while enlisting the list of people who wouldn’t be entering the kingdom of heaven. The scripture was from Revelation twenty one: eight and it read –
“But as for the cowardly […] their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”
Rich Deem’s emphases on the cowardly disturb me to an extent that I had trouble sleeping that night[i]; because in a practical sense I considered myself a coward; not only by my own standard of measurements but by my family and friends’ as well. For instance – I don’t like hearing strange noises late at night. I never fight: I prefer negotiations. I despise the company of ungodly men and women; because I’m afraid of the influences that’d have on me and most of all I’m afraid of things their wicked hearts[ii] would lead them to do in order to get their way done.
For example: a few months ago an ex boyfriend of an old acquaintance called me and threatened me in order to get the name of the guy who she was dating now. The trouble was – (a) I didn’t know either of the two guys i.e. this ex boyfriend and the new boyfriend (b) I didn’t know this said female friend of mine very well as well. We communicated only in need of an academic exchange and it was rarely that we had an occasional chit – chats.
It took about an hour explaining things to that brute that I had not contacted her in ages and I was unaware of what was happening in her life. Finally he calmed down and we ended the conversation. But even on that night I couldn’t sleep.
For a very long time Psalm one: one was dawning on me, it is that verse which reads:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”
That telephonic conversation with that stranger who sounded like if I was in his physical proximity could have strangled me just because he thought I was his ex’s friend who knew about her new boyfriend brought me the revelation of the need to distinguish myself from the unbelieving lot by leaving their habitation and entering the realm of grace.
If you consider the prodigal son you’d find that happiness and containment kissed his feet only when he entered his father’s home. Meaning: to enjoy the abundance of peace and protection you need to be in the realm of His grace. That is why preachers preach confession without repentance is null and void and of no advantage. If the prodigal son confessed but never repented from his ways – never left the company of the wicked and return to the realm of his father’s threshold, wouldn’t his life end miserably?
Henceforth, I was so convicted that I pursued shaking off my unbelieving friends who mocked at my religion even after sharing the gospel repeatedly. My folly was that I was under the impression that I was meant to bring them to Christ but the truth is we were meant to share the gospel not super imposed them.
Soon following the incident I changed my number and pledge and prayed to keep myself away from the company of the wicked and the ungodly, but the stink of guilt persisted – the constant feeling of a coward lingered on. And when I read that verse from the book of revelation, I broke down.
A friend of mine once taught me – all scriptures that warns have a terrifying effect on the un-repented but the same is met with joy by the one who believes. So does it mean – I’m yet to believe? Or was it really fear that I was feeling?
Oscar Wilde wrote Conscience and cowardice are really the same thing.[iii] So I asked again: What was I feeling? Was it a conscience or cowardice? The answer lied in what John Gill wrote regarding it:
Not the timorous sheep and lambs of Christ, the dear children of God, who are sometimes of a fearful heart, on account of sin, temptation, and unbelief; but such who are of cowardly spirits, and are not valiant for the truth, but who, through fear of men, either make no profession of Christ and his Gospel, or having made it, drop it, lest they should be exposed to tribulation and persecution; these are they that are afraid of the beast, and live in servile bondage to him.
It turns out that it was conscience and not cowardice that I was struggling with. It was the conscience of righteousness that my soul was screaming out loud to my ears that was deft from hearing the counsel of the wicked. It was the divine providence that took Satan’s attempt of enslaving me to fear to freeing me from the company of the ungodly.
It turned out that a coward is not the person who is worn-out by the burden of sin but a coward is someone who shies away from the gospel and one who refuses to witness Christ. A coward is the person who has no belief in the God who appoints angels for the safety of His people[iv]; angels who can singlehandedly kill one hundred and eighty five thousand soldiers[v]. A coward is the one who has no faith in the God who says I have forgiven, forgotten and removed your sins as far as the east is from the west[vi]. A coward is the person who refuses to belief in the God who says He has a future for him[vii]. A coward is the one who cannot belief that the son of God died on his behalf so he can have an eternal life[viii]. A coward is the person who wouldn’t give God the control He deserves.
Hence, dear brethren: I would have been a coward if I had refused to recognize God’s cue to take an exit from the company of my old partners in crime. But I stand here today; empty yet filled and destitute yet satisfied in His providence so much so that I’m ready to sail no matter how stormy the weather gets – to the end of the world where my savoir wishes me to witness for Him.
All pain and pleasure, dear brethren that life brings you to – know that it is just a perspective away from making it into a curse or a blessing. Remember when God the father blessed Christ after getting baptized by John the Baptist, the unbelieving hearts might have heard a thunder but the believing ones heard the voice of God proclaiming Christ as His beloved Son.
[i] Note: I ended up praying myself to sleep.
[ii] Note: Though we are all sinners and have our own share wickedness in our hearts yet I believe all believers have the consciousness of Christ that keeps these feelings latent until the process of the regeneration of our hearts are completed.
[iii] The Picture of Dorian Gray (page 9)
[iv] Psalm 91:11
[v] 2 Kings 19:35
[vi] Psalm 103:12
[vii] Jeremiah 29:11
[viii] John 3:16