Saturday, July 11, 2015

The prefix makes all the difference...

The following is from about 4 years ago, but I find that sometimes I need to re-read what I wrote so that I don't forget the lessons I learned during that time.
Perhaps it's because the beginning of school is just around the corner...(I'm sorry for that reminder to all my teacher friends)...or perhaps the Lord is trying to show me something. Either way, I woke up this morning with a word rolling around in my head - complete with thoughts on its meaning and how different it can be simply by the addition of a prefix.
The word is "courage."
The dictionary definition of courage is this: courage – noun

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
1. fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, pluck, spirit. 
1. cowardice.

I have heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear, but it is facing that fear and going forward anyway. To me, courage has always meant strength.

But this blog is really more about what happens to the word "courage" when you add a prefix...see, I told you it was related to school.

If you add the prefix "dis" to the word "courage", you get a totally different picture. "Dis" means

1. "lack of, not" (lack of courage) ; 2. "do the opposite of" (opposite of being courageous); 3. "apart, away" (apart from courage).

If you add the prefix "en", you get this: “to cause to be in” ( to be "IN" courage );  "cause to be, make" ( to make courageous ); "put in or on" ( to put on courage ).

There's a lot of words out there that fall into both categories - unfortunately it seems that more fall into the "dis" category than the "en" one.

The Bible talks a lot about courage and encouragement. You can follow this link to see just a few of the verses - (Courage). One of my favorites is Psalm 43:5 - "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." While it doesn't use the words "courage" or "encouragement", it definitely is talking about them. You could almost substitute discouraged for disturbed!

In 1 Samuel 30, you find David encouraging himself: "...But David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV). If you read the entire passage, you find that this was no small task. They had just returned from battle to discover that their city had been burned and their wives and children taken. I'm not sure I would have had the strength to do as David did then.

I have recently been thinking that we all have a mission in life - to encourage those around us. Sometimes we manage to do that...other times we do not. Encouragement isn't just a bunch of "happy sounding" words. To encourage is to speak TRUTH into is to somehow strengthen those around you....and that is sometimes a little painful.

This summer I've been hitting the gym on a regular basis and I'm learning a thing or two about strength training. There are times when my trainers (Thanks Tamesha, Nan, and as of today - Bentley!) tell me to do something that is downright hard! All the while, they are pushing me (encouraging me) to go a bit farther than I think I can. They smile understandingly when I complain and then tell me to do another set. They don't let me give up. They are helping me get stronger...building me up. I'm thinking I'd like to be like them - only as a spiritual trainer. I want to encourage those around me, and myself, to push beyond our comfort zone. I want to see us all become strong in the Lord and in courage.

My question in all this is a simple one - which prefix am I? Have I become an ENcourager or a DIScourager. Since God encourages us and the devil discourages us, I need to know who am I working for? Do the words of my mouth strengthen those around me or feed their fear? Which prefix will I choose to be? Which will YOU choose to be?

Ephesians 6:10, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."

1. Which prefix am I? EN or DIS?
2. Do I seek to strengthen those around me daily? Do I purposely use not just empty words, but TRUTH that builds up?
3. What about the words I say to myself; are they words of faith or failure?
4. Find at least one verse that builds you up and meditate on that today.

More quotes on courage:

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Albert Einstein

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Mark Twain

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
Mark Twain

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
Winston Churchill

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
Abraham Lincoln
How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.
Benjamin Franklin

One man with courage is a majority.
Thomas Jefferson

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.
Ronald Reagan

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