Discernment and Courage

“Because the ways of God tend to be both counter-intuitive and counter-cultural”, there is an urgent need for “both discernment and courage” in meeting current challenges facing the church. (Tyler Smith, “The Future of Ministry.” Logos Talk. April 25, 2017).

Following God requires serious choices on the part of man. Joshua challenged his people, saying, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…” (Josh. 24:15). Faithful service to God is the result of making right choices. But right choices are informed choices. As Joshua took on the monumental task of leading God’s people into the Promised Land, Moses charged him to “Be strong and courageous.” His courage moved him in the direction of being careful to obey all the law which had been given through Moses. He was not to “turn from it to the right or to the left.” Then, and only then, would he enjoy success (Josh. 1:7).

While great courage is needed in facing the challenges of the future, discernment is needed so that we can make choices that lead to spiritual prosperity. This is why Moses went on to say, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). Knowing the right way is half the battle. The rest is doing it. For this, there is courage and strength, for he says, “Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (vs. 9).

Ultimately, victory comes with the power and presence of the Lord. The apostle John speaks to this matter, saying, “greater is He who is in you that he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). In light of our own strength, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). But in Christ, we can handle every situation (Ph. 4:13). If we will take advantage of it, God’s word is powerful enough to provide us both with discernment and courage in facing the challenges of living in a world at odds with God’s revelation (Hb. 4:12; Rm. 1:16).

Glen Elliott

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