Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep . . . they have stolen, they have lied . . . That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. (Joshua 7:10-12)Sure enough, it came to light that on a previous mission a certain man named Achen had reserved for himself just a few of the things that were supposed to have been "utterly destroyed" in the conquest. He hid the booty, thinking he could get by with holding onto just a few of the spoils of war. Boy, did he pay! He and his sons and daughters - his whole family - paid with their lives for that little judgment call, which must have seemed harmless enough at the time.
There is a lesson in this. If things are not going the way I think they should, if I am not able to stand up against my spiritual enemies (which are not people, but old patterns of behavior), perhaps there is a principle at work which I should heed. I need to make sure I am not guarding things that are "devoted to destruction." Those things may not be material objects, but are more likely old ways of doing things, out of habit or fear.
As a Christian I may not be likely fall into the obvious traps of stealing or lying outright, but there are a lot of gray areas where I might justify less than exemplary behavior. In those gray areas, do I hold my thoughts and decisions up to the light of God's instruction book, or am I guarding things in my heart and mind that don't pertain to a Christ-follower? Have I truly learned in life that it is not only easier, but absolutely necessary to do things God's way?
I hope to learn this quickly and well! Let me hold my thinking up to the light of God's word so that I will not be caught with "booty" that doesn't belong to me. There may be a path before me that seems right, but ends in destruction (see Prov. 14:12). I can't trust my natural patterns of thinking, but instead I must hold every thought up to the light of God's word to be examined for flawed motives.
I pray God will give me courage to throw out any stolen booty, and I pray a blessing on you as well. May our Father in heaven give you the power of the risen Christ to walk each day according to this directive, so that you will benefit from its promise:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you
which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
*Today's Reading: http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/devotions/through.the.bible/?date=2008-03-28