You have heard of faithfulness, holiness, mercy, and love. The Lord exhibits these traits towards us and we seek to show them as followers of Christ. There is one trait that does not get as much press. Thanks to an Israelite king, I began pondering it.
Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place and strengthened himself against Israel. 2 He placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim that Asa his father had captured. 3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. 5 Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6 His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah. (2 Chronicles 17:1-6)
I usually do not consider courage as a Christ-follower trait because the land I live in allows me the freedom to worship as my conscience allows. In some countries, courage is a necessity.
So why was it necessary for Jehoshaphat? He was the king and one of the Chosen People. Why did he need courage? He needed it because his actions bucked the status quo. He took on the popular practices and traditions that took root among the people after the days of Moses and Joshua. During David's time, they were more muted. After David, they came back with a vengeance.
The king's father and grandfather and great-grandfather were considered good kings. But they let the practices of idolatry continue in their midst. Jehoshaphat decided enough was enough. He did not order the practices to cease. He went out himself and destroyed the idols. He sent teachers to the people to direct them to the Lord. He took on the status quo and he was successful in the Lord.
I enjoy the freedom of this country. That same freedom and its comforts easily lull me into going with the flow. Why rock a boat that is drifting well with no waves around?
Yet truly waves will come. Will I be able to stay with the boat? Do I need to get out of the boat as Jesus comes close and bids me go a new direction? If change is absolutely necessary, am I willing to strike out alone if no one else wants to go with me?
Jehoshaphat was courageous in heart. He did not let the status quo become his measuring rod. As a Christ-follower, I feel the need today for the same courage.