Take Courage!

By: Joni Eareckson Tada

Yesterday I woke up in a sour state of mind. Before the morning was over, I complained about my painful hip, snapped at my get-up girl, and growled at Ken about an unpaid bill. The day had hardly begun, and I was already asking for forgiveness!

From beginning to end, life in Christ is a daily battle. Every day is a fight to stay satisfied in God. You have to wrestle for the joy that is yours in the Holy Spirit. Yes, joy is a gift—the fruit of trusting in God—but you have to receive and embrace it, even though your circumstances are anything but joyful. In short, every day we are fighting the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12). And nowhere is that fight more evident than when we exchange blows with temptation, when we say no to sin.

In his book, The Hole in Our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung writes, “The Bible is realistic about holiness. Don’t think that all this glorious talk in Romans chapter 6 about dying to sin and living to God means there is no struggle once you give your life to Christ.” Dying to sin and living to God does not mean that sin will never show up in your life. The Christian life entails obedience.  And obedience implies that you’ve said no to something sinful or self-centered, and yes to something righteous and God-honoring.  

So when I feel my desires pulling me in a stubborn, selfish direction, I borrow an analogy from Kevin DeYoung. I picture myself in a boxing ring. In the other corner is the world—sometimes  it’s the flesh, or often it’s the devil. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the three heavyweights I am battling every day. But just look who I have in my corner…

Why, I’ve got the Spirit of Christ, rubbing my shoulders, holding the bucket, putting His arm around me and whispering before the next round with sin, “You’re going to knock him out, kid.  I’ve seen you land punches like this before. I’ve been training you for such a time as this, and I know that with God’s help, you can do it. So go in there and flatten ‘em!”  

I invite you to remember who is in your corner the next time you feel assaulted by the world, your flesh, or the devil. Picture the Holy Spirit reminding you that you are more than a conqueror. You have Jesus, the heavyweight champion of the universe on your side. So be encouraged, knowing that you’re on the winning side. “Sin may get in some good jabs,” writes my friend, Kevin. “It may clean your clock once in a while. It may bring you to your knees. But if you are in Christ, sin will never knock you out. In Christ, you are never defeated, never down for the count. It’s because you are no longer a slave to sin, but free. Sin has no dominion over you. It can’t. It won’t. A new King sits on the throne of your heart. You serve a different Master.  You salute a different Lord.”

So please, friend, do not tire today of fighting the good fight. Take courage knowing who is in your corner. And please know that the fight will not last forever—one day it’ll be over, and every battle you’ve won against sin will bring honor and glory to your Savior. It’s what makes the Christian fight so good

Joni Eareckson Tada is a regular columnist for Just Between Us. Additionally, she is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, and an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.  She founded Joni and Friends in 1979 to provide Christ-centered programs for special-needs families, as well as training to churches. Joni’s lifelong passion is to bring the Gospel to the world’s one billion people with disabilities. She and her husband Ken reside in Calabasas, California.