When the people of Israel are finally allowed to enter The Promised Land, under the new leadership of Joshua, the Lord reminds them (through an admonition to Joshua) of the call to courage.
The Lord is not saying this in some casual, general sense. He is reminding them of very specific circumstances, namely their refusal to fight when they heard the spies’ report of the challenges they faced.
God had prepared them to trust Him. He had shown them mighty works. He had led them to victory in battle. But their spirit crumbled in fear. The first generation refused to fight.
God reminds the second generation of this failure and admonishes Joshua’s generation not to make the same mistake.
The Promised Land is a place “flowing with milk and honey”. But first they had to fight for it. Part of living in The Promised Land is having the courage to possess it.
God calls us to strive each and every day. He calls us to kindness in the face of rejection. He calls us to seek the best for others who will not return the favor. He calls us to love when the dominant culture is apathy. He calls us to set aside our own desires and seek the desires of the Spirit.
In other words, God calls us to fight against being self-centric. The first generation put material comfort above obedience. And the biggest loser was themselves.
This is why Jesus told us that the way to be lifted up is to lay down our lives. It takes great courage to make that kind of investment. There is a “promised land” flowing with blessings if we are willing to slay the giants of selfishness, take down the walled cities of self-rationalization, and conquer the passions that seek to enslave.