By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Joshua 1.6, 9, 18; 10.25
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the book of Joshua in conjunction with this article.
It is interesting that courage is required in almost every field of endeavor from the ball field to the battle field. Courage is a characteristic that is required for an individual or team if they want to overcome failure, to continue winning, to face overwhelming odds, or to carry on in the face of negativism. However, courage is not always easily maintained but it can be easily deteriorated. A loss on the ball field or a casualty on the battle field can almost undermine boldness to move forward. But perhaps the conviction of defeat is the greatest deterrent to courage.
We live in a day that has many challenges, but perhaps the greatest challenge is the challenge of pursuing truth. Some declare truth as not identifiable; to a degree it seems that this takes courage. But to say that truth is not only identifiable, but tangible, liveable and defendable requires the greatest of courage. While those who assert “no truth is knowable” will be applauded, it takes greater courage to reply to that statement with, “Does that statement of ‘no truth is knowable’ include or exclude itself?” If it includes itself, then by they paradoxically identified truth; but if it excludes itself, then truth is knowable? Taking a non-position position may seem courageous, but actually standing for something requires the greatest of courage.
When is courage demonstrated? Being part of the crowd or standing out – perhaps it depends on what the crowd says is the truth. But even with clothing, which is more courageous: to blend in and wear the “popular” items; or to wear something that is not “popular”? It takes courage to stand apart from the crowd. It is interesting to me that as I have observed life many parents tell their children to “stand out” “be different” all the while the parents seem to be “blending in”. Again, which takes courage?
Courage is one of the greatest character traits that any one person can have. Because military personal “…conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States…”1 they are awarded the Medal of Honor/Valor. And for those who are wounded or killed in defending the United States, military personal are awarded the Purple Heart. The willingness of firefighters and police officials to respond to the catastrophic elements of 911 and the willingness of civilians to render aid within turmoil is courage. We look to these moments and value these people as heroes, but heroes are not only found in these areas. Courageous people are located everywhere, but the most courageous people of all are the ones willing to stand for God’s definition of righteous living.
Consider the needs of Joshua, the heir of Moses, the then-new leader of Israel. How much courage would it have taken to lead those people into a new land? It took so much courage, that only one man could accomplish the task before him and that one man was Joshua. However, there is only one you. And you may feel that God has not called you to do anything grandiose like Joshua. But have you considered that being a God-fearing father and mother within our country takes oodles of courage?
We live in a time that just announcing yourself as a Christian brings ridicule. While it can be rightly argued that Christians have not always behaved godly or kindly as they profess and this has hindered the Gospel Message and we have brought some of this ridicule on ourselves, this is not the focus of the article. We must acknowledge and accept the fact that we have not always behaved Christ-like and that is difficult, but knowing this let us become different. Let us become true children of God, kind, merciful, longsuffering and willing to take the Good News to the perishing.
Considering Joshua 1.6, we need to be strong, to be courageous (or bold as one translation states2). Verse seven says strong and very courageous (bold). Verse nine repeats the same message: be strong and of good courage. Have we lost our courage? Truth be told, yes – some of us have. But being strong and bold does not translate into angry and bitter. As Christians, it seems that we have lost our ability to persuade the heart to obedience, so we have become argumentative and legislative. True heartfelt obedience to God cannot be legislated from our government, because impersonal legislation cannot cultivate the personal heart. Let us be strong and of good courage to actually take the word to our neighbor, even the one who seems to be the most unrighteous. Remember, Christ died for sinners, not for saints. But who are we trying to evangelize? It takes courage to go to the sinner.
Joshua led a group of people into a non-God-fearing land. Those Canaanites were bigger and stronger than Israel, but because Joshua trusted in God, meditated on His word and led Israel, Israel was successful. From Joshua 1.6, 7, and 9 we can learn that God’s leaders need courage. From Joshua 1.18 we can learn that God’s people need courage and from Joshua 10.25 we can learn that God’s leaders need to encourage God’s people. May the Lord grant us the courage to be serious students who meditate on His Word; to do all that He wants us to do; to be unwilling to compromise God’s truth towards conservatism or liberalism (1.7), so that He will give to us and our families prosperity; so that we will have true success.
- Medal of Honor information from wikipedia.com.
- Joshua 1.6, 7, 9, 18; 10.25 – as appears in the Complete Jewish Bible.