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Your Triple Threat Guide to Living a Courageous Life
From the time we were little, many of us dreamt of being firefighters, astronauts, doctors, soldiers… All occupations that take courage. And though we may not always maintain the same passion for that particular occupation as we grow older, something in all of us still longs to do something courageous with our lives. Yet so often, when the moment comes to make a decision or to step out in courage, we can find that we don’t have the capacity or ability to do so. The desire may be there, but often when the moment comes, we feel like we are not ready, and we can easily shy away from the moment.
Proverbs 24:11 is one of those verses that we all aspire to fulfill: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” It sounds great and makes you want to rise up and do something courageous. But often, it is the previous verse (verse 10) that rings truer: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
So how do we position ourselves to be in a place that when the day of adversity comes, we are able to rise up in courage and boldness?
Maintain Your Triple Threat Position
When I played basketball in High School, my coach would hammer home the point of maintaining a triple threat position whenever I had possession of the ball. For those of you who do not know that that is, a triple-threat basketball position is a posture where a player can do one of three things: dribble the ball, pass the ball, or shoot the ball. A player in triple-threat stance keeps their center of gravity low with one-foot forward, and they hold the ball close to their hip away from the defender. Also, facing the basket while in a triple threat position can help you see the entire court to read the defensive players and to identify any open players on your team. It is when you are in that position that you are most useful to your team, and most dangerous to your opponent.
When it comes to living a life of courage, there is a triple threat posture we can also maintain, that when the day of adversity comes, we are not just willing to live courageously, we are able to. This position is maintained when we are healthy in three areas; our relationships, our physical bodies, and in our spiritual life. When you develop health in these three areas, you position yourself in a triple threat position, that makes you most useful to Jesus, and most dangerous to the enemy.
1. Relationally Healthy
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “you are the sum total of your five closest friends.” If that is true – that the five closest people to us shape our successes, our interests and our lives – then it is important to revaluate our relationships to see if that is what we want to become.
David understood the importance of being relationally healthy throughout his life. So much so that it became the subject matter of the first psalm in the Bible (Psalm 1:1, 2 ESV):
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Notice the cycle of toxic relationships. It begins with “walking in the counsel of the wicked”, which leads to standing “in the way of sinners”, and finally ends with sitting “in the seat of scoffers.” Walking, standing, and then sitting is the pathway to toxic relationships that will hinder us from living a life of courage.
But David goes on to describe the status of a person who is relationally healthy in Psalm 1:3 (ESV): “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” In our study in the book of Job earlier in this series on courage, we saw the importance of having the right voices around you, and that your closest friends are either giving you courage or withholding courage from you. It all begins with who you are allowing in your life.
The first step to maintaining a triple threat position in a life of courage is being relationally healthy.
2. Physically Healthy
As we look at the events that have unfolded in our world lately, particularly in Afghanistan, our hearts are with the men and women trapped there and awaiting rescue, and the thousands of Christians whose lives are under threat by the Taliban. Some have already given their lives as martyrs, and others are under heavy persecution for their dedication to Jesus. Pastor Dave, in his message on The Greatest Reward of Courage, mentioned Jesus’ advice to those that were persecuted for their faith (Revelations 2:10b ESV): “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
But for those of us who are not living under the same heavy persecutions, Jesus also has advice for what we are to do with our lives, particularly our physical bodies, in Romans 12:2 (ESV, emphasis mine), “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” While we may not be giving our lives to him in death as many believers around the world are, we are called to give our lives (particularly our bodies) to Him as living sacrifices.
The latter part of Romans 12 says that what we do with our bodies is our “spiritual worship.” Though it may sound contradictory, how we present ourselves to God physically, has so much to do with how we worship God spiritually. In fact, we can only be as valuable to God on Earth as our bodies are healthy and strong because, without our physical bodies, we cannot be the hands and feet of Christ that the church is meant to be. So being physically healthy puts us in a place where we can live a life of courage.
In his blog, Taking Care of Your Body is Worship, Rick Warren mentions three things that we can do with our bodies that the Bible calls acts of worship:
1. Cleanse your body. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (NIV). You cleanse your body by controlling what you allow in your mind through what you watch and listen to, and in your body by what you eat and drink.
2. Care for your body. Ephesians 5:29 says, “No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church” (NLT, second edition). Keeping your body in shape is an act of worship to God.
3. Control your body. “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 NIV). Control your body so that it doesn’t control you. There is no reason to say, “I couldn’t help myself!”
3. Spiritually Healthy
The third area that we need to be healthy in order to live a courageous life is in our spiritual life. This is also the most important part because according to Paul, being spiritually healthy has resulted in this life as well as the next. In 1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV), Paul writes, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Throughout the Bible, the Word of God is ascribed to different kinds of food and drink. In 1 Peter 2:2, it is described as milk, in Hebrews 5:14 it is meat, and in Jeremiah 15:16, the prophet says, “Your words were found, and I ate them.” So when it comes to developing a healthy spiritual life, God’s Word is the diet that will get you there.
The Word of God is the Great Motivator
A recent Netflix documentary on Michael Jordan called “The Last Dance” gave a peek into Jordan’s competitive nature, in that he would manufacture slights against him in order to get motivated. A USA Today article talked about one of those instances:
LaBradford Smith had exactly one 30-point performance in his 183-game NBA career. Late in the 1992-93 season, Smith, playing for the Washington Bullets, torched Jordan and the Bulls for 37 points on 15-for-20 shooting. Mind you, the Bulls still won the game in Chicago. But Jordan shot just 9-for-27.
Jordan claimed Smith said after the game, “Nice game, Mike.”
The Bulls and Bullets just happened to play each other the next night in Washington.
Jordan told teammates, “Tomorrow in the first half, I’m going to have what this kid had in the game.”
Well, Jordan had 36 in the first half and 47 for the game, and Bullets announcer Phil Chenier said Jordan is “concentrating almost solely on LaBradford.”
Years later, reporters asked Jordan if the story was true and if Smith actually said, “Nice game, Mike.”
Jordan replied, “No, I made it up.”
When it comes to living a courageous life, feeding on the Word of God is the great motivator that will build courage in your life. You won’t have to inspire yourself with fake slights, you won’t have to induce yourself with alcohol and you won’t have to numb yourself with drugs, the Word of God will breathe fresh life and fresh confidence in your life, causing you to live courageously. John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
As you build health in your spiritual life, your relationships, and your physical body, you are positioning yourself in that triple threat posture that will allow you to overcome on the day of adversity, and live a courageous life.