Monday, January 27, 2014

Courage vs Confidence

Courage is the opposite of cowardice; confidence is the opposite of uncertainty.

Courage and cowardice are antonyms—they mean the opposite of each other. They both deal with how you handle fear.

Confidence and uncertainty antonyms—they mean the opposite of each other. They both deal with how you handle doubt.

If you look at the dictionary definition of confidence the word courage is nowhere to be found.
con·fi·dence noun \ˈkän-fə-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s\
  • A feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
  • A feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
  • The feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true
Likewise, if you look at the dictionary definition of courage the word confidence is nowhere to be found.
cour·age noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\
  • The ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous
  • Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
David was confident, not courageous.
David said to Saul, "Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." David said to Saul, "Your servant was keeping his father’s sheep; and when a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after him, and struck him, and rescued it out of his mouth. When he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him, and killed him. Your servant struck both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God." David said, "Yahweh who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."

Saul said to David, "Go; and Yahweh shall be with you." Saul dressed David with his clothing. He put a helmet of brass on his head, and he clad him with a coat of mail. David strapped his sword on his clothing, and he tried to move; for he had not tested it. David said to Saul, "I can’t go with these; for I have not tested them." David took them off.

He took his staff in his hand, and chose for himself five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his wallet. His sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man who bore the shield went before him. When the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and withal of a fair face. The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" The Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky, and to the animals of the field."

Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin: but I come to you in the name of Yahweh of Armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today, Yahweh will deliver you into my hand. I will strike you, and take your head from off you. I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky, and to the wild animals of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that Yahweh doesn’t save with sword and spear: for the battle is Yahweh’s, and he will give you into our hand." (1Sa 17:32-47 WEB)
David's fight with Goliath is often held up as a model of courage, but are we really reading about courage or confidence? David had fought and killed both a lion and bear—two animals that even the giant Goliath would have problems defeating. Moreover, there is no doubt in David's mind that God will make him victorious over Goliath.

Where's the fear? There was none. Courage is the overcoming of fear. David's faith in God was so strong that had no fear of going into battle with Goliath. David trusted God. David was confident, but not courageous.

This is not to say that David wasn't admirable. He is, but it is his faith in God that we should admire in this story. A faith that produced confidence—a confidence that allowed him proceed without fear.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Were courageous.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered them, Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. (Da 3:13-18 WEB)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God could deliver them (if he chose to do so), but they knew it was a real possibility that he would not. Yet, they thought it was more important to honor God (and risk a gruesome death) than to give in to their fear and save themselves. That's courage.

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