David learned the lesson of courage and restraint after he returned from battle to Ziklag and found that the Amalekites had burned the city and taken their families (see 1 Samuel 30). David did two very important things in response to this crisis.
First, he encouraged himself in the Lord his God, even though he was emotionally drained from the situation. In the same way, we must deliberately stir up the courage within us. Proverbs 28:1 says, “…the righteous are bold as a lion.” The lion is fearless and violent, and will back down to no one. That same fearlessness must be stirred up within us.
When our enemies strike, we can stir ourselves up by reaffirming our place in Christ. Speak out loud words that establish His love for us, and the power of His Word that is available to us. David activated courage in the Lord his God.
To encourage ourselves activates courage. A resilience from within gives us the ability to emerge from, and many times, evade discouragement. We recover quickly. David activated his courage, but he knew there was more needed.
The second thing David did was to inquire of the Lord saying, “Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them?” (v. 8). Even though we are to exercise courage in the Lord, we must have clear direction from the Holy Spirit as well. When David was released by God to pursue his enemy, he went with utter confidence and he recovered everything just as God had said.
Courage is expressed in many different ways. Recently, in one of our meetings, Dennis began to minister to husbands and fathers who needed to become the men of God in their homes. Several came to the front of the church to repent and receive strength to fulfill their responsibility. Some of them were prominent in the church. That took courage! That is facing a difficulty fearlessly. It is also being led by the heart and not by excuses.
When Elijah was faced with a situation that was less spectacular than dealing with the prophets of Baal, he found himself lacking. Instead of courageously confronting Jezebel’s threats against him, he tucked his tail and didn’t stop running the entire day.
Elijah was inconsistent. He was either in total command, or out of control. He was either extremely courageous, or very cowardly. What he lacked was temperance to regulate and direct his courage.
Jesus, our example, was the most courageous of all men. Yet, His entire life was marked by temperance. He didn’t back down from any demon, nor from the religious hypocrites of His day. Later, He courageously restrained Himself in the court of His accusers.
Many people have cultivated the habit of “speaking their minds” and “telling it like it is,” and in doing so, they cause a lot of hurt and damage to other people. They confuse their careless words for courage, and their thoughtlessness for honesty. Much of the time it takes greater courage to give a soft answer, or simply to say nothing at all.
We need to develop a blend of courage and temperance and draw our strength from the indwelling Spirit. The nature of Christ within us should demonstrate a courage that is actively blended with temperance and one that will mix compassion with truth. Armed with that type of stability, we will be able to approach the demands of life with the perspective of courage and strength, seasoned with temperance.