By Allen White
I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. Joshua 14:7-8
When Joshua, Caleb and the ten other spies were sent by Moses into the Promised Land, they had very different impressions of their possibility for success. Ten of the spies reported that the odds were strongly against their success. Caleb offered a much different perspective, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). “But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored” (Numbers 13:31-32). The negative report caused the people to “raise up their voices and weep aloud” (Number 14:1).
Ten of the spies looked at the circumstance. They were outnumbered and outsized. Their forecast was that the land would “devour” them (Numbers 13:32). But, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, had a different viewpoint: “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:7-9). What made the difference?
All twelve spies had the same objective, saw the same things, and served the same God. Ten chose to focus on the impossible situation. Two chose to focus on the God who doesn’t know the word “impossible” (Luke 1:37). Ten chose to evaluate their natural ability. Two chose to embrace God’s call and His ability. The report of the ten produced fear and retreat. The report of the two produced confidence and hope (with a little fear).
This wasn’t so much a “glass half-empty or half-full” situation. This was more of a victory or death situation. The stakes were high. The morale was low. But, God is good.
What I have learned (the hard way) is that the negative report should be directed to God. He is the only one who can actually do anything about it. Rather than demoralize and discourage everyone around me, I give the negative over to God. He can take it. He’s never surprised.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am no Pollyanna. I’m definitely the opposite of that, which is what, Satan? I don’t look at the world through rose colored glasses. I usually look at the world through dirty glasses. It’s the opposite problem.
What affect are you having on others around you? Are they flourishing or are they wilting? Are they confident or are they fearful? If your effect on others is more negative than positive, today is a good time to evaluate what you are reporting and who you are reporting it to. The negative should be directed to God. The encouraging should be given to others.
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