Strong and Courageous

Included in my 100 favorite stories in the Bible is the story of David’s encounter with Goliath. The story is told in I Samuel 17. The armies of the Israelite’s and the Philistine’s gathered in the Valley of Elah to wage war. Battles of this magnitude often resulted in heavy death losses on both sides, and so on occasion in order to reduce blood shed, each army would send one man to determine the outcome of the battle.

As the story unfolds, “A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.” He wore a coat of bronze scale armor which weighed 125 pounds. The end of his spear weighed 15 pounds. His size alone would have been enough to discourage anyone. Each day for 40 days Goliath would walk out onto the battle field and challenged someone to come and fight him saying,  “Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

No one had the courage to fight the intimidating Goliath until one day when Jesse sent his son David to the battle field with some snacks for the Israelite army. Upon arrival David discovered the tension between the two armies and after discovering the payout for the person who killed Goliath, David said to King Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

As I ponder David’s courage, I am amazed at how he managed his feelings of fear.  Although numerous times in the Bible we are told not to be afraid, it doesn’t mean that we should never experience fear. Fear is simply an emotion that is naturally produced by a situation that is perceived to be threatening. The command to not be afraid has more to do with how we respond to our emotions of fear. The opposite of being afraid is not the absence of fear, but rather the absence of courage.

Another value the Ridder Team learned about a couple weeks ago was the value of courage. It is impossible for us to live our life as if Jesus were living our life apart from displaying courage. There is no doubt; to follow Christ in mission will require courage.

The definition we were given for courage was: “Getting or staying in action, as wholehearted children of God, regardless of fear, anxiety, shame, or real or imagined consequences.” A shorter definition from John Wayne is “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

In his devotion on this value of courage, Pastor Scott Stephan writes, “Most Christians have advanced in our spiritual maturity only as far as our courage has taken us. In other words, what is often standing in the way of experiencing God’s emerging future is not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of courage. If that is true, then it’s quite possible that what you and I don’t need is another sermon, but rather “saddling up” and doing what we already know God is calling us to do.”

We all have habitual areas of disobedience that exist solely because we lack the courage to do what we know is right. One of the primary reasons that leaders fail, that relationships break down, that teams become dysfunctional, and that churches become ineffective against the schemes of the devil is simply a failure of nerve—a failure of courage.

So how do we grow in courage?  Well, I’m not sure? So send me your ideas and then I’ll finish my thoughts on the value of courage next week. 🙂 In the meant time check this out!!

Growing in being strong and courageous,

Mike Altena


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