Day 25: Courage
WHAT IS COURAGE
Anytime a person stands for what is right, they will face opposition. Think of Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom, Mother Teresa living among the poor, and Jesus Christ bearing the sin of the world on the cross. Having courage is difficult, but we are all called to it in some way.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7 (NIV)
Standing up against the devil is something to never be taken lightly. He is described in scripture as "the accuser of our brethren." (Revelation 12:10) We wonder why struggle with sin for so long. It is partially because our adversary is crafty, enduring, and ruthless. If this is true, then what hope is there? How can we find freedom? Are we simply doomed to bear defeat for all our lives? No!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (NIV)
Have you had trouble in this world? Are all your relationships going the way you want them? How are you doing with the things you labor on: work, school, or your relationships? Has someone done you wrong? Problems and troubles are inherent in this world.
DEVELOPING A MINDSET OF COURAGE
In my experience with this struggle, there are two types of mindsets to have:
- The lie: we are defeated and can no longer stand in the presence of God. We have fallen too far, and His sacrifice was insufficient to pull us from this dark place
- The truth: we are defeated, but because of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, we have freedom. We can stand before a holy God because we have been made white as snow through His son.
When things begin to come into perspective, we see how foolish our previous thinking was. How can we undermine the sacrifice of Christ? He did not die so that we can sin “x” amount of times and void it out. He died so that we, as sinful as we were or will ever be, can stand before God as His children. God made sin irrelevant to our relationship with Him, provided that our hearts are genuine when we come to faith in Jesus Christ.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. -1 Peter 3:18
How can you live according to the truths in 2 Timothy 1:7? Specifically, what does a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline mean?
What comes to mind when you think of the word "powerful?" Or when was the last time that someone described you as a powerful person? We tend to think that power is reserved for those who have the strength to get the things that they want. Maybe that's power to some, but that's not what 2 Timothy 1:7 is talking about. Power isn't in who we are but in who we know. We don't have to be shy, afraid, weak, or lonely because we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
What does love have to do with not being timid? Isn't love itself a timid characteristic? Perhaps it can be, but love is not a shy, weak, or frail emotion. Love is life-changing, inspiring, and motivating. Love causes us to see our brokenness for what it really is (a conviction from the Holy Spirit) and chooses instead to focus on the good that has come from our shortcomings. We not only have to love those around us but we have to love ourselves enough to recognize when we're being fooled. Sexual sin is a lie that many of us have been fooled by. Walking in love starts by stepping away from that old lifestyle and instead walking toward God.
A timid person is not disciplined and does not know how to make change. We do not have a spirit of timidity but of self-discipline! Discipline takes hard work and patience. It takes admitting the areas in which we need work and carefully guarding the areas in which we feel the strongest. Perhaps you're beginning to develop some good habits as a result of this course. Keep it up! You'll be tempted to break those habits out of laziness, exhaustion, or business but it's not worth it. When we fail to remain disciplined, we fail to move forward into freedom.
Some may ask at this point in the course “Why then am I still struggling?” I too came to that place many times during my struggle, which lasted for nearly 10 years. In the end, I realized that I wasn’t "all in" with God. I was only giving Him half of my heart, half of my time, half of my life. It takes courage to cut out the things in life holding us back. People want change to happen overnight, and sometimes it can, but often it's about winning the smaller battles, day by day, moment by moment.
Here are some things to try in order to cultivate courage in your life:
- Give everything to God
This can sound like a cliche, but it’s true. We cannot do this in half-heartedly. We must spend time with God, make Him our number one priority. Whether that is a habit of daily devotion, prayer, worship or all, we must do this to gain a heart of courage.
- Admit your weaknesses
Read 1 John 1:9, memorize that verse. That verse is integral in our admittance of our shortcomings and also of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.
- Use Fear to your Advantage
It’s been said “courage is fear that has said its prayers.” I like that quote because without fear, courage cannot exist. Have you been afraid that you’ll never find freedom? In that fear, have the courage and the confidence to recognize who you are in Jesus and let that drive you to fight the enemy and his schemes.
Day 25 Application
According to Jesus in John 16:33, how ought you and I respond to the trouble in this world?
What areas of your life, particularly regarding your sexuality, are you in need of more courage? What will you do to cultivate courage in these areas?
When are the times you're the most aware of God's love and presence? What can you do to cultivate that frame of mind? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?