Have you noticed how many things are collapsible these days? High chairs are collapsible. Cell phones are collapsible. Computers are collapsible. Camping equipment is collapsible. Even our economy is collapsible. Things that are collapsible are pretty unique. When it’s not convenient to use them, we just collapse them and put them away for a more convenient time.
There is something else that is collapsible that is much more profound than a high chair, cell phone, or even the economy. I’m talking about the collapse of courage. We have the choice to either be courageous and stand up for what we believe or to collapse under pressure. Courage can be defined as the God given ability to stand.
In this Athlete Workout we are going to focus on the courage of Joshua and Caleb when they faced some serious peer pressure. They faced some people who were talking smack about them. They faced some people who wanted to make venison out of their vision and wanted to dash their dreams.
Here is the situation: The children of Israel, God’s chosen people, had been miraculously delivered from Egyptian slavery. God had performed acts and signs and wonders that would just blow our doors off: parting the Red Sea, feeding them from heaven, all of this amazing stuff. The children of Israel were standing on the brink of closing the most amazing and stunning real estate deal in the history of the world—The Promised Land.
Right before the title was exchanged, right before they moved in, God did something unique. There was about a million of them there. God called a quick time out and told Moses to pick twelve leaders. God told him to pick one leader from each of the twelve tribes of Israel and have them do a secret recognizance mission to check out The Promised Land. So that’s what Moses did. Moses, being a stand-up guy, a man of courage, obeyed God and told the twelve leaders from the twelve tribes to go out and do a secret recognizance mission on the land.
They were out for forty days. After forty days, they returned. As the spies began to give a report to Moses and the congregation of the Israelites, things started happening. The wheels started coming off of the deal because ten of the twelve spies became what I call “vision vandals and because their courage began to collapse.
Numbers 13:27 “They gave Moses this account: ten of the twelve spies said, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey. Here is its fruit.” I’m sure the people were going, “Wow, look at the size of that pomegranate! Look at the cantaloupe! Look at the watermelon! It’s unbelievable! This land is awesome!”
However, between Verse 27 and 28, you can kind of hear them collapsing their courage and folding it up and putting it away. They could not get off of their “buts.” They moved from being courageous—going out in this land and checking it out—to being cowardly. Look at Verse 28. “But the people who live there are powerful,” they said. “And the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw the descendants of Anack there.
“Everything looks cool, but… I like it better like that, but… that’s not the way we used to do it, but… that doesn’t seem very spiritual, but… it just doesn’t seem perfect, but…but…but….” “but’s” are vision vandals. They are negative. You deal with it. So do I. It’s part of life. These people couldn’t see what God has done and more importantly they couldn’t see what God was going to do because of their big, fat, but’s. . .
Ten of the twelve spies were collapsing their courage. Ten of them saw the external. Two of them-Joshua and Caleb saw the Eternal.
Numbers 13:30, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land for we can certainly do it.’” Caleb says, Come on you bunch of vision vandals. You know vision vandals, don’t you? Al Average, Steve Status Quo, Mary Maintenance. Same old, same old Sam . “We can’t do that. It’s too difficult. It’s too expensive. It’s too different.”
Here is something I have found out in my life, and I know you have found it out in your life as well. Being courageous is lonely at times. However, the reality is that we are never alone.
Let’s skip down to Verses 31-32. The vision vandals are talking again. The vision vandals said, ‘We can’t attack these people. These people are stronger than we are and they spread a bad report about the land they had explored. The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.’” It’s so bad. It’s so negative.
Negativity is a highly infectious disease. We are drawn toward negativity. Negativity is interesting because we don’t like to be negative alone. Negativity is never alone.
If you don’t believe me, let’s just keep on reading. Numbers 14:1-2, “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.” Now these negative people had swarmed into the entire community. “All the Israelites grumbled (who did they grumble against? The Leaders, Moses and Aaron). And the whole assembly said to them ‘If only we had died in Egypt or in this desert.’”
Grumbling, murmuring, negativity is always directed at leaders. I don’t care who you are, where you work, where you go to school. I don’t care if you are an Owner or a coach or a manager or a pastor. You are going to deal with negativity.
There is one way, though, that you can go through life grumble free. Just do absolutely nothing. Just stand there and the negative people will never come after you, and the grumblers will never grumble about you.
You might think, surely this stuff didn’t hurt Moses or Aaron. Not Joshua and Caleb, are you kidding me? These guys are spiritual superheroes. Surely people talking smack about them didn’t hurt them. Let’s keep reading. Verse 4: “’We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole assembly gathered there.” The grumbling even hurt these guys.
If you keep reading, Joshua and Caleb were ambushed by the onslaught of anger that they just ripped their clothes. They just tore them up. The people said, “We should choose a leader.” But they didn’t want a leader. They wanted someone safe. They wanted someone they could control. They wanted a little puppet. They didn’t want a leader. They didn’t want Joshua and Caleb out there because that’s too much adventure, too much excitement. It’s too risky, too unpredictable. They wanted somebody safe, someone they could control. “Take us back to Average? Take us back to the same old, same old. Take us back to status quo. Take us back to Egypt.”
Let’s push the clock forward forty years, guess who the leaders were this time? That courageous duo, Joshua and Caleb. What do you think God talked to them about? Yep, He talked to them about courage.
Joshua 1: 6 God says, “Be strong and courageous.” Verse 7. Twice he says to “be strong and very courageous.”
In Verse 9, God hammers this again for the third time—the trifecta—he says, “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous.” Like, “Joshua and Caleb, one more time now, be strong and courageous.” Why? Because of God’s presence. What does it say? “Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God is going to be with us! We serve an extraordinary God who gives us an extraordinary amount of courage that will come from the inside out and will be displayed in every realm of our lives.
We need courage in three different realms. First of all, we need spiritual courage. We desperately need spiritual courage.
It kills me when people say, “You know, Christianity is kind of reserved for those people who are weak; those people who need some kind of psychological crutch; those people who are kind of soft.”
I laugh when people say that, because they are intimidated by the courage of Christians who are courageous enough to tell the truth about their condition before a holy God. At least we are courageous enough to admit the fact that we’re not perfect and in need of a Savior. The people who are talking smack are shallow, superficial, and scared little boys and girls. What are they scared of? The courage of Christ. They see Christ, and Christ intimidates them.
I hope many CrossFit athletes will say, “God, I want to have the spiritual courage right now to tell the truth about my condition, and establish a personal relationship with you.” We need spiritual courage just to spend time with the Lord everyday. We need spiritual courage to carve out time to pray and read the Bible.
We also need something else—Number two,—We need ethical and moral courage. We need ethical and moral courage in the business world. The courage to be honest about what we are selling. Courage to be honest about what we really offer. Courage to not take or take credit for what is not ours. We need courage to stand for what we believe. When everybody else is going one way, we need to say, “I’m going to go God’s way.” Courage to be honest even when it makes someone else look better than me. We need ethical and moral courage.
Third, we need relational courage. Courage to speak the truth in love. Courage to forgive our spouse. We need courage to ask for forgiveness. We need courage to build-in time to spend with our kids. Courage to teach them about Christ. Courage in our schedules to make church a priority. Courage needs to be everywhere, in every slice of life. It needs to transcend everything we do, say, touch, and feel. We need courage.
- Describe a time when you were in a situation where you felt like you were alone in a decision surrounded by a bunch of “vision vandals?
- Share about a time when you feel like you liked courage and if you could go back in time you would have done things differently?
- Is there anything going on in your life right now or decision that needs to be made that you really need courage to follow through with it? God doesn’t want you to fold your courage and put it away for a more convenient time. You know what God wants from you and me? He wants us to take out our courage by his grace and power, open it up, and say, “Here is where I stand.”
- I what area do you struggle with courage the most? Spiritual Courage, Ethical and Moral courage, or Relational Courage?
Practice being COURAGEOUS!