Where Will My Courage Come From?

Passage: Jeremiah 2:1-3

2:1 The Lord spoke to me. He said: 2:2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 2:3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.


Soul Search Essay
Courage comes from love. Love comes from remembering and choice. In this passage, God is fondly, lovingly recalling his prior relationship with Israel. Through Jeremiah, he is stating clearly to the current Israelites how his love gave the early Israelites courage. He is implicitly asking the current Israelites to share in his loving memories and recognize that his love also conferred real life protection.

Why focus on real life protection? It is in real moment-to-moment life that people abandon God for alternate solutions. Much of the book of Jeremiah is about how Israel during very real stressors and threats chose alternate solutions due to there collective multiple failures of remembering and multiple failures in choices. Yet, Yahweh still loves them. He still loves them. The consequences of the Jeremiah’s peers failure to remember and to base today’s decisions on those memories were very, very real…people died, homes and businesses were destroyed, children died…yet, the love for these Israelites was very, very, very real.  It is as real for you as it was for them.  It is as present in a disaster as it was in prosperity. Yahweh’s love does not change. The source of true courage does not change.

Yahweh lovingly recalls his relationship with you as a believer in Jesus Christ. Yahweh’s loving relationship with Christ directly applies to Yahweh’s loving relationship with you. It is this love that generates the courage to enter, endure and triumph in the inherent, inescapable war between Christ and the prince of this world. As strange as it seems, war requires love.

Look to a modern human example of love in war generating courage.  In the coming weeks, go find a combat veteran from our military, one of the guys that actually fired a rifle at someone in combat. These men and women are all around you after 3 wars in the last 55 years. Ask him or her about the importance of the fellow soldiers or marines to the right and left in those times. If he or she will talk with you (it requires tremendous courage to recall the horrors of combat) watch the face, the hands and the eyes. Men and women in combat run into hell to help their budies. They stay in hell to fight for their buddies. There is a bond forged in combat that is extraordinarily deep.  That bond is what creates these marine’s and soldier’s courage. It is the loving connection to others. Yes, absolutely yes, marines and soldiers love.

You cannot manufacture courage sufficient for war on your own. What you create will be a poor forgery of courage. It will not sustain you. You will most likely then begin blaming when that courage fails. Blaming yourself. Blaming God. Blaming friends and family. Blaming situations. Why? We hate failure. We hate weakness. We hate vulnerability. Yet, these are the flames that forge love into courage. There are reasons that basic training is so brutal. It is a progressive forge, which is building bonds through common, shared failure and trauma. Christians also experience basic training. It is what comes between the milk of early faith and the external focus of mature Christianity.

Your courage to change must come from love.  For your internal battle is in fact a war.

Captured…

Passage Colossians 2:6-8
2:6 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 2:7 rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 2:8 Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Soul Search Essay
I have worked in a variety of work environments and businesses – for-profit, non-profit, entrepeneurial, established businesses, family businesses, etc. I have read many business and management books. Only a very few of these books are based in scripture. Fewer secular business environments actually reflected Christ like influence. Many of the environments I worked in were populated with a scattering of Christians (I live in the Bible Belt), but from what I could tell the race to influence mentioned in the prior devotional essay was being lost by these believers. Most did not seem to know a race was even happening.

In any new social environment there is a race between you and the environment on who will influence whom more. Yes, your entry into the environment, your shared thoughts, your actions, etc. are having an impact, but are you not also adjusting your thinking and actions based on the responses to you from the environment? You are. This means you are changing, even if you do not realize it. OK, maybe you are in management and you may be a strong leader making an observable impact. Even you, however, are not unchanged by others in that environment. You do not have sufficient power to impose your will with no impact on you by other’s behaviors, even if you are the CEO. Also, your observable impact may be more in line with human tradition than Christ.

Consider your work history. How often were the relationships you have now and those you have had at work been infused with Christ-based input coming to you (again to you, not from you)? What where all the influences that you experienced? Were there Christ-based influences impacting you that were both pervasive throughout this history and defining of these environments (See footnote)? Why in the world would I ask these questions of someone in a secular business environment? Do I not understand the trends in America today? The removal of Christianity from many American forums. Do I as an author have no clue about this distancing in American businesses, whether small, medium or large? This distancing is precisely the trigger for this essay.

Since most Christians work in secular business systems led and staffed by non-Christians, these believers are at least strongly influenced and sometimes strongly controlled by evil. Whoa! Am I saying all business is evil? No. I am saying all businesses (unfortunately even ministries) have many, many deep tendrils of evil running through them.

To believe that Satan ignores or is excluded from business culture and philosophy is foolish. It is laughable. We live in an unavoidably fallen world. Falleness dominates the world. Why? Satan is the current ruler of this world and his goals are spiritual. Satan is committed to lying his way to the destruction of anything Christ-based and/or Christ-connected. Anything. One of his most effective tools at insinuating his lies into your life is your work within a business. Why?

Business offers power, money and status. These are powerful ways “…to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” The modern American business is founded on human traditions. If you disagree with me, take a serious look at your workplace. Really look hard. How many things in that environment influence you to “…continue to live your lives in [Christ], rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness?” Many? Maybe a few, but do you work in an environment that actively supports your spiritual development? Or does it offer other solutions? For the vast majority of the answer is “No, it does not support my spiritual development.” Yet, work and business definitely offer solutions. Do you recognize the solutions you are being offered? The solutions are too often destructive and therefore are tremendous threats to you.

So, what is the greatest threat to your being “…rooted and built up in him…?” Success.  Success itself.  Continue in the essays to understand why I say this.

FOOTNOTE: Notice that I did not ask you if you worked in a Christian ministry. This devotion essay has nothing to do with working exclusively in a church or ministry. Most Christians do not work in ministry delivery businesses. I am addressing Christians in the secular business world, which is where most Christians work.