Thoughts on the Way Home

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Clear the Ground for Yourselves

Joshua 17 talks about the inheritance of the land for the tribes of Israel. The verses below specifically made me think of growth in grace and victory in spiritual battles.

Joshua 17:14-18

Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, "Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?" And Joshua said to them, "If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you." The people of Joseph said, "The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel." Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, "You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong."
What do these particular circumstances teach us about walking with the Lord? Well let's summarize what happened. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are complaining because the portion of land given to them by lot didn't seem to be enough to fit all their people. Joshua gives them some simple advice to remedy their situation: clear the ungodly nations out of the land, and then you'll have enough room. The people then respond by saying that the nations are too strong to drive out. Guess what Joshua says... "No they're not. Now go drive them out!"

I thought this was good in that it pictures the Christian life. Many times we look at what we have received from the Lord in terms of spiritual strength and giftedness and think we are lacking, and if only we had some kind of extra lot and blessing we would be better off. But this is what it comes down to... When we desire to walk closer with Christ and claim more spiritual ground, we ought to set ourselves to actively fight the battles right in front of us with the strength that the Lord has made available to us. Rather than just asking for some kind of easy way out or golden ticket to godliness we should set our faces like flint to be victorious over what immediately plagues and ails us. God has made us strong in him. We are more than conquerors through Christ. If you have any kind of defeated Christian mentality you can throw it to the wind. The Lord wants us to clear the ground for ourselves through the help of his Spirit that he has placed within us.

Notice too, that while there is definitely a divine and sort of "behind the scenes" aspect to our sanctification, here we see a very active and upfront aspect. Joshua says, "You are strong, now quit asking for more land and get out there and claim what I've already given you!"

There are no shortcuts in the Christian life; and more spiritual gifts, or more access to good sermons, or even more free hours in the day are not going to do you one lick of good unless you are using the ones you have already been given.

Blessings to you today, my friend.