Sunday, August 4, 2013

Courage: Dying to Ourselves

 
"Courageous Voyage" By: Thomas Kinkade


"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9



We are commanded to be strong and courageous by God. It is not a suggestion, but a command. He doesn't give us an alternative! He doesn't allow us to sulk in the corner like the cowardly lion. Courage is something breathed into us by God. It is a God given trait that swells in the heart and will always push forward. There is nothing that can hold back courage when it is backed by the power of our Almighty God.

Sometimes courage does not involve fighting a battle with swords and guns.  It may not be climbing the highest mountain peak or braving the strongest storms. It may be waiting quietly and resting in God's presence during a trial in our lives. It is shown in a mother birthing a child and a father supporting his family day after day. It's in the small, everyday, unseen things. The quiet courage of a mother caring for her sick children after a sleepless night. The one fighting a painful disease. Fighting for a marriage hanging by a thread. It may simply be the trust we have in God that He is what He says He is. Courage is walking the path God has us on and not straying.

Jesus was strong and courageous. He walked a counter cultural path. He healed those that were the ultimate cast offs in society---lepers. (Matthew 8:1-4) He spoke against the Pharisees, who thought they were the most righteous of them all. "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20

He said that exactly the opposite of what is valued on earth, is valued in heaven. What courage it took to say to people that everything they valued was of no value!

"What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way." Luke 6:22-23

Jesus died to Himself in His life on earth. It takes courage to recognize that we have to die to ourselves every day. Jesus nailed our disease of selfishness on the cross with Him. There was no selfishness in Jesus. If He had given into selfishness, we wouldn't have a savior. Jesus did not live for His remodeled house. Jesus did not live for the next car He was going to get, the next promotion and the next vacation.  He simply lived His life as a sacrifice to others. He died to what would have been His own ambitions. He never thought of how His skills benefited Him. In fact He always thought of how they would benefit His flock. What courage He had to live for everyone else and not for Himself. What courage it took for him to not run away from the cross.

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galations 5:24 

Our selfishness has already been crucified. Think about that for a moment. Our selfish desires, ambitions, the things that involve no benefit to others but only to ourselves, they've been crucified! They are done with, over, gone, dead. Yet too often we live in the "living for self." Yet we are told that that doesn't produce peace, only strife. 

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:16-17 

When we have courage to die to our selfish ambition we will by the power of the holy spirit produce pure peaceful things in our lives. We will produce sincere and merciful things. Life giving things! 

What a very important choice we have to make. Living for ourselves and producing strife? Or living for God and the ambitions and desires He has for us that reap a harvest of peacefulness?

Jesus walked the path of courage. He courageously died for us so that we might have peace and life giving things, not strife and evil things. We forget all of our selfishness is already conquered but it takes daily intent to die to ourselves. We need to live in that courage and self sacrifice every day. This is what Jesus died for---that we may live in the fullness of life every day. That we may live in courage and submission to God. Then we will daily die to ourselves to find a rich and abundant life.

Prayer: Lord, show me how to die to myself. Show me the things in my heart that are my "selfish ambition." Show what your ambition is and what your desires are for me. Let me live in your life giving desires rather than my faulty human desires. Give me your courage to die to myself that I may have life. Amen.


"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

“A Christian home should be a place of peace, and there can be no peace where there is no self-denial.” ~Elisabeth Elliot


 

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."  Ephesians 5:21

"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." 1 Peter 4:1-6











3 comments:

  1. Hi Ashley! I am coming over from a Little R and R.

    I love how you pointed out that having courage is a command, and not a request. I am facing hurdles in my life and wondering what it all means. I think it just means that I need to face these problems and do the best I can with them.

    No cowering in the corner! Thank you for pointing out that I have to give the Holy Spirit something to work with :)
    So nice to see you today!
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete