October 15, 2009
Raising Children with Moral Courage
"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
1 Samuel 17:26b (NIV)
I grew up loving the story of David and Goliath. I read about it in little Golden Books, and Sunday school teachers retold the drama using flannel boards. I can almost picture the shepherd boy David standing his ground in front of the giant Goliath with only a slingshot, while the entire Israelite army quaked in fear. Woosh, woosh, woosh, around his head the slingshot swung. With a strong arm, David let the stone fly and bam! The giant fell, and David was victorious.
What a great story! But is it a story to be left in the history books, or are we to learn anything from David's example? As I read the passage in 1 Samuel, chapter 17, a few things jumped out at me. First, David wasn't planning to get in a fight that day. He was just an errand boy sent to deliver food to his brothers. So truly, he was just a bystander to the fight. But as David neared the front lines, he quickly realized what was happening. He heard the taunts of Goliath, and got drawn into the situation. Something within David's heart started to stir. David tried to get someone to answer his questions about this bully. He wanted to know what was going to be done.
David finally asked in exasperation: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" David's anger wasn't for the threat given to himself, nor his brothers. His anger burned because someone dared to threaten and defy those chosen by his God.
When the trained professionals wouldn't step forward, David - confident of his God's power and protection - put five stones in his shepherd's bag and approached the bully. Calmly, David said to Goliath, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45).
We could write off the courage of David as a legend to be enjoyed, but not applied to our lives today. Except for two biblical truths: 1) David was a man after God's heart (Acts 13:22) and 2) God doesn't change (Malachi 3:6).
Although Jesus calls us to a life of forgiveness and compassion, even He didn't tolerate those who dishonored God's holy temple. With righteous indignation, Jesus turned over tables, and drove out money changers and those who were selling doves within the walls of the temple, accusing them of turning His father's house into "a den of robbers" (Mark 11:17).
The Bible records many stories of men and women with moral courage. These individuals knew what was right, and were willing to take a stand in spite of their own fear. They weren't perfect, but the heroes of our faith saw injustice as more than a personal offense, they saw it as an offense against God.
As it becomes easier to settle into a life of ambiguity, our children are finding it harder to summon moral outrage. Today a challenge is set before us as parents to raise, and to be, men and women who will stand for what is right. We live in a world that needs the touch of God through the hand of His people. We can't be bystanders and make a difference.
As parents we can instill moral courage into our children by stepping out in faith to help someone else, in spite of inherent risks. You see, we can't learn moral courage from a book. We can only learn it by being brave once. Then doing it again
Dear Lord, there's a part of my heart that stirs when I read of the brave heroes in the Bible. I know there is so much to do in the world. But you know my fear. Help me to trust You more, so that I can stand up for what is right in spite of the danger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer
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Identify one thing outside of your comfort zone that you can do to help someone else in the next six months.
What should a Christian's response be to injustice?
What are some ways to increase courage?
1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong." (NLT)
Psalm 9:8-10, "He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you." (NLT)
© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Originally published Thursday, 15 October 2009.