What Does Having Courage REALLY Mean?
Written by Jenn Arman | November 5, 2013
Girls, do you know the most common definition of “courage”? Courage is being afraid to do something, but doing it anyway. Anytime I think about courage in the Bible, I usually think of Gideon; his story begins in Judges Chapter 6.
When Gideon’s story opens, we learn that the Israelites were doing what was evil in God’s sight. Because of their behavior, God was allowing the Midianites and Amalekites to oppress Israel. These people had driven the Israelites up into the mountains, where the people of Israel would hide in caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites would come down from the mountain to farm, the Midianites would come against them and destroy their crops and livestock.
Judges 6:6 says Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian; they were starving. So Israel did what they always did in situations like that: they cried out to the Lord to save them.
The angel of the Lord goes to the property of Joash the Abiezrite to pay his son Gideon a visit. The Bible says that Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianties (Judges 6:11); remember that the people of Midian were destroying all of Israel’s crops.
Now Gideon is hiding in a tiny area made for stomping grapes and he’s trying to thresh wheat in there. When ancient people threshed wheat, they did it out in the open, beating the wheat against rocks or the ground. Beating the wheat like this would separate the heavy wheat kernel from the chaff—the worthless part of the wheat. Then the kernel would remain on the ground and the chaff would blow away in the wind.
Gideon is trying to do this in a small, mostly enclosed space; that’s how afraid he is of the Midianites. The angel of the Lord has come to visit a coward. The people of Israel had become cowards because they forgot who they were—the people of the Living God. So the angel of the Lord begins to remind Gideon with a greeting.
The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” —Judges 6:12
This isn’t the greeting that the coward in the wine press was expecting to receive. Gideon answers the angel: if the Lord is with them, why are they being oppressed and starving? The angel of the Lord gives Gideon what is in my opinion the best answer ever.
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” —Judges 6:14
BOOM! God agrees with Gideon and tells him to go kick all the Midianites out of Israel.
Now Gideon spends a lot of time trying to convince God why he’d be a terrible choice for this job, but God isn’t going to hear it. So, coward that he is, Gideon starts asking for signs, and God in His patience gives Gideon what he needs to feel relatively sure that he’s dealing with God.
Then God asks Gideon to step out in courage and tear down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole at which his village worships, build an altar to the Lord and offer a burnt offering. Gideon knows when his village wakes up and sees what he’s done, they’re going to try to kill him.
Gideon defines courage when he does what the Lord says, even though he knows the people will be furious with him. Gideon does what God tells him to do and reminds his village that they belong to God and not to Baal.
Later, God uses Gideon and 300 Israelites to defeat the Midianites, who were thick as locusts; and their camels were without number, countless as the sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12).
Girls, I know it’s scary sometimes when God asks us to do certain things like speak in front of people or share the gospel with someone. If we learn anything from Gideon, though, it’s that if God asks you to do it, then He’s already given you victory.
Girls, can you share a time when you were courageous about something God asked you to do?
When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped; and he returned to the camp of Israel, and said, “Get up; for the Lord has given the army of Midian into your hand.” —Judges 7:15
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