Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 22 July 2022:
Joshua 14:5, 9 – God honors obedience.
Joshua 14:10-12 — “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
Caleb is a great example for older people (and for anyone else). He had no desire or plan for “retirement”. He didn’t ask Joshua for a bass boat or a membership to a golf country club; rather he asked for the greatest challenge, to secure the hill country and the fortified cities in the Name of the Lord. He volunteered for this challenge in the hope that “the Lord will be with me.” Caleb remained healthy, vibrant, and influential in his later years because he chose to stay in the fight, to remain active and committed for God. His did not consider his age a drawback but rather a testimony and an attribute. God will use a faithful servant of any age to do great things in His name and through His power. In 1 Timothy 4, Paul encourages Timothy not to be concerned about his young age, but rather to serve God with confidence to the best of his ability. Naturally, young people lack a degree of experience, and older people lack a degree of vitality, but they both have equal access to the power of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 20:29 — “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” God calls us to use what we have, and He warns that if you don’t use it, you will lose it (see Luke 16:10, and Matthew 25:14-30).
Joshua 14:12 – God’s most faithful followers desire the hardest assignments and trust God’s provision for success.
“Caleb’s faith in God never wavered though everyone around him doubted. God convinced Caleb that the children of Israel should enter the Promised Land, but the people were intimidated by giants and fortified cities (Num. 13:28-33). Their disbelief forced Caleb to wait forty years in the wilderness before he finally entered the Promised Land. Even after all those years, Caleb was as confident as ever in God’s power.
When God was dividing the land among the Israelites, the people were asking for the lush valleys and grassy plains. Caleb asked for a mountain. The Israelites had driven their enemies into the mountains, where they had built fortresses. This did not intimidate Caleb–he asked for a challenge! He did not trust in his own strength but in God’s presence. Caleb longed to see God work in power, and he knew he would be less likely to rely on God if he dwelt in the easy places. He chose a situation in which he would have to trust in God. Caleb knew his inheritance from God was on the mountain. He refused to allow the difficulty of gaining it to stop him from enjoying all that God had promised him.
If you always choose the easy way, asking for the peaceful valleys, you will never see God’s power displayed to enable you to take a mountain. Seek out the mountains, and you will witness God doing things through your life that can be explained only by His mighty presence.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 8-10, 12, 14, 15 – Keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness…. with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat…. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living…. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Today’s readings are instructive on how to deal with others who aren’t behaving as they should. In this particular case, the issue is idleness, people not doing their fair share. How many arguments and divisions are caused by perceptions of inequity and inequality? Unfortunately though, we don’t seem to grow out of this problem. In fact inequality, or perceptions thereof, divide the nation and cause wars between nations.
Paul’s approach was to set a higher example by doing more than what was fair, always going the extra mile regardless of what others did. He wasn’t focused on his rights (v.9) but rather on displaying grace (giving others what they didn’t deserve) as a testimony to the Gospel. Yet, from his irreproachable position, he held others accountable. Notice though, that, as he modelled what right looks like, he held others accountable in a positive, encouraging way, pointing the Jesus’ ultimate example – “We command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul said, that when people will not listen, we should “have nothing to do with them,” but that doesn’t mean treating them with disdain and writing them off. The intent and hope is always reconciliation – “Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” Paul doesn’t respond in kind (by not working too), he responds by example, loving warning others in love.
Paul’s example is contrary to how we often respond to others who aren’t treating us fairly. Here are some things Paul didn’t do:
- Work less because others weren’t pulling their weight.
- Criticize and ridicule others for not behaving as they should.
- Resentfully remain quiet while people take advantage of others.
- Boldly stand up for his personal rights rather than using the opportunity to demonstrate grace and proclaim the Gospel.
- Write others off in contempt.
- Close the door to forgiveness and reconciliation.
How do you deal with people who are unfair? Consider Paul’s example.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 July 22: Today, consider how you manage conflict with others. When you are wronged, or when others are wronged, use the opportunity to display the love of Christ and proclaim the Gospel.