"Courage is not always measured by the ability to win; it is more often measured by the ability to sacrifice." TWEET
I was recently invited to participate in an event as the guest speaker, and I said these words to a group of young men there. The event was called Camp Grace, a camp specifically for under-resourced inner-city children. Many of the kids were from right around my neighborhood here in Atlanta, so it was a privilege to get to speak to them because who they become will not only affect their lives, but it may affect mine as well.
For them, these words have meaning because in their neighborhoods it is the strong or most violent that is counted as courageous. The one who “Don’t take not $#!@ off of nobody.” But, if I could just get them to see that true courage is not always being able to win the fight, the argument, or the conflict by force, then it could fundamentally change how they interact with each other, and the other kids in their neighborhoods.
Jesus is the perfect example of this type of courage and strength.
When is the last time you read the gospel account of Jesus’ death and crucifixion? When is the last time, if you are a Christian, that you have taken in and meditated on all that Jesus suffered, not only in the actual crucifixion, but also in everything leading up to it?
The gospel writer John says, “They took Jesus and flogged him (19:1)…And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head (v.2)… They…struck him with their hands and plucked the hair from His beard]….Then Jesus went out, bearing his own cross (v.17)…[And] they crucified him (v.18)…When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them (v.23)…After this they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth (vv.28-9). When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (v.30). And after all of this “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (v.34).
At any moment, during any part of this ordeal, Jesus could have destroyed all those who were attacking and oppressing Him. He’s God! He has ultimate power and authority! He is preeminent in all things, and in all things He is supreme! And yet, He did nothing to defend Himself, nothing to fight back, nothing to win. Was He afraid to fight back? No. He said, “No one takes My life, I give it away.” Was He unable? No, He could have at any moment combated their attack with all the power of heaven in His hands. But, He chose the path of sacrifice, and in this, He showed what is truly courageous.
Do you always have to win? With your employees or employer? With your kids or your spouse? Do you always feel it necessary to win because you can, and if you don’t, then you wouldn’t be showing courage? Next time you encounter conflict, remind yourself of the most courageous man to ever walk the earth. He didn’t have to win because in sacrificing Himself, He’d already won. True courage is, more often than not, measured by the ability to sacrifice.