“Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:6-7)
Moses had just died, and Joshua was now Israel’s leader. During Moses’ leadership, God brought the ten plagues to Egypt, parted the Red Sea, destroyed Egypt’s army, kept Israel alive for forty years in the wilderness, and many other miracles. No doubt Moses would be difficult to follow. Joshua would not do what Moses did. Yet God promised Joshua, “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee” (Joshua 1:5).
God told Joshua to “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land.” God knew Israel could be tempted to give in to fear and not go into the Promised Land because of the fierce people living there. In fact, forty years earlier Israel did just that—they refused to believe God and revolted against Moses’ leadership. As a result, God made them wander forty years in the wilderness until the rebellious people died. God didn’t want His people to give in to unbelief again.
God also said, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law [boldface added],…turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua needed to obey God—to do things God’s way—in order to have God’s blessing. Here is an important lesson: if we want God’s blessing, we need to be obedient to Him.
Cops go to dangerous calls and put their lives on the line for each other. That’s how they form a strong bond of camaraderie. That’s good. Yet the flip side of that bond is peer pressure to go along with the questionable conduct of others. This pressure can be especially tough when other officers have seniority or are in a large majority. Refusing to engage in others’ wrongdoing can seem scarier than going to a “shots fired” call. Yet it also requires courage, moral courage. That’s the second courage God wanted from Joshua.
At some time in your career, you’ll no doubt be tempted to go along with others’ wrongdoing. If you don’t, they may gossip about you. They may write about you on the bathroom wall—no signature, of course. Don’t let their childish conduct bother you. You’ve shown moral courage and done what pleases God: “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chronicles 29:17).
Given the toxic environment that cops have to work in nowadays, you also need to resist temptation to be lazy because “the people in power don’t want you to work.” People in power may set policies that help criminals and make life hard for decent people. They may not see the damage their policies actually do, and quite honestly, they may not care. Yet you see the damage their policies do. That’s why, unlike some of them, you need to care about decent citizens. Don’t abandon decent citizens to the mercy of criminals.
You have to obey policy, but bad policy is the sin of the people who put it in place, not yours. Don’t “just answer radio” and nothing else because “the people in power don’t want you to work.” Don’t ignore traffic violations or pedestrian stops because there’s too much paperwork or because a suspect may fight and a boss may whine because he has to do a use-of-force investigation.
Do the best work you can within the restrictions you’re stuck with and do it honestly. Resist temptation to do wrong, whether temptation comes from other cops or from people in power. That’s what God wants. That’s moral courage.
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