A little quote from G.K. Chesterton for your Friday:

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes.  It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers.  It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book.  This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage.  A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.  He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it.  A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying.  He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape.  He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.  No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly not have done so.  But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying.

From Orthodoxy, p. 99.

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One thought on “Courage”

  1. Wesley says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for this. I have yet to wade into much Chesterton but this is certainly more reason to do so. Love the line, “to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying.” That’s just excellent writing mixed with an engaging exegesis; the picture is blindingly bright to me. I also love,“Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying.” That just encapsulates “he who loses hi s life for My sake will find it” in the sense of dying to live. A favourite – if not difficult – paradox of Christ’s.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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