“Yon Ch’uan Three Zone Defense training brings out in young people the qualities of humility, honesty, confidence, courage, strength and truthfulness.” Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts Black Belt Study Guide With Scriptures
We continue our series about Christian character in martial arts with one of the most basic benefits of studying martial arts – courage.
It is a benefit of both training in martial arts and developing character as a Christian.
Be of Good Courage
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Students in Grace Martial Arts begin learning Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts as White Belts. Belts are traditionally how martial artists in the past 100+ years have express knowledge and experience in martial arts training.
Every belt level (also known as rank level) in Grace Martial Arts includes three Christian character qualities and three Bible verses to learn. The character qualities are about the ‘character’ of Jesus Christ. Courage is the third character quality students learn on their way to earning a stripe on their White Belt.
What is the most courageous thing you can imagine someone doing? Standing up to a bully? Volunteering to fight for your country? How about offering yourself as the blood sacrifice for the sins of others so they can be forgiven? That’s what Jesus did.
“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, ‘Certainly this was a righteous Man!” Luke 23:44-47
Jesus Christ is truly our greatest example of courage. However, you and I will not be called on to sacrifice our lives for the sins of others. We can’t do that; only Jesus could. Only Jesus was the eternal Son of God who became sinless flesh and dwelt among sinful men. Only Jesus was qualified to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
So, what courage will we need to have as followers of Jesus Christ? Here are some reasons Jesus gave His disciples –
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Many Christians in the United States have not experienced the hatred of the world toward their being Christian – but it’s coming. Millions of Christians around the world are experiencing severe persecution because of their love for Christ (e.g. imprisonment, death). Millions more are experiencing moderate persecution (e.g. loss of jobs, homes, buildings to worship God, higher education). Hatred and persecution for following Christ is the model Jesus gave His disciples. It is not something that should surprise us if we have read through the New Testament.
As we read about Christianity from the 1st – 4th centuries AD we see moderate to intense persecution. That type of persecution is rising again and has been for many years.
Here’s how Jesus Christ encouraged Christians to express courage in the face of persecution –
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: ‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: ‘I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:7-13
So, how do we develop courage to face whatever may come into our lives? It’s having the same mind as Christ –
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The word ‘mind’ is a translation of the Greek word φρονεῖτε (phroneite) which means “to think, have understanding.” The idea is having insight (understanding) into something that demonstrates that understanding in our outward behavior. We are courageous when we think like Christ.
Developing courage as a Christian is a process of understanding. It begins with a healthy fear of God – which is the beginning of knowledge, understanding and wisdom –
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
“Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:5
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10
A righteous fear of God also leads to obedience –
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
In the face of great persecution when the apostles were arrested and put on trial, they said this to the Sanhedrin about the importance of obeying God –
“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32
One of the primary purposes of martial arts is to develop confidence and courage. Those are also true of Christian martial arts.
You may have already had opportunities to demonstrate courage as a Christian martial artist. You may have told others about your love for Jesus Christ. You may have shared the Gospel with them. You may have stood up to a bully. You may have protected other people from harm. You may have told the truth in a situation that caused you to lose a job, position or promotion. There are many ways to demonstrate courage as Christians.
May we remember God’s promises as we demonstrate courage in our Christian life.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6
We will look at many examples of Christian character as Christian martial artists in this series. You can see each of the character qualities emphasized in Grace Martial Arts by clicking on our online Black Belt Study Guide.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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