The story of the journey that the people of Israel took fleeing from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, crossing the desert, and wandering for 40 years is retold a number of times in the Old Testament. One of the lessons that comes across to me about this story is that these people (who had been in bondage and slavery for 400 years in Egypt) were turned back from their destiny by their negativity. What they focused on determined their future. Even the cloud by day and fire by night were not sufficient for them in the end. The miracles they had seen were soon forgotten. Complaints replaced amazement.
At the end of the journey, 12 spies were sent into the promised land. The evidence for all 12 of the spies was exactly the same, but the conclusions were entirely different. Caleb and Joshua gave a completely different report, though they did not dispute the facts. They saw the same giants, they saw the same walled cities and the things that had to be overcome. But they came to a different conclusion. 10 spies saw the things they couldn’t overcome – Joshua and Caleb knew that PLUS GOD, they had the majority. However, when the people heard the conflicting reports, fear took over and the 10 versus 2 ended up becoming 3 million + 10 versus 2, as the nation of Israel believed the evidence of the 10.
Christian aren’t spared giants and walled cities. Two people can experience exactly the same thing and come to completely different conclusions – it is a choice as to what you will believe. Our attitude is important when it comes to the outcome. And, by the way, the majority aren’t always right. The same crowd that was yelling “Hosanna!” when Jesus entered into Jerusalem were probably the same ones yelling “Barabbas!” and “Crucify him!” days later.
A strange thing about human nature is that once we believe something, we begin to assemble the facts to prove it. We shouldn’t deny the facts (sometimes Christians fall into this trap), but we do need to be careful about what comes out of our mouths.
A good report takes faith into account:
- It sets you apart from the crowd. Great things are often done by the minority (think of Martin Luther and the start of the Reformation), NOT the majority.
- It sustains your life. Joshua and Caleb are still standing and raring to go, while all the others died.
- It keeps you in the will of God. Consider the example of Joseph, who makes the best of every situation, and remarkably is never recorded as complaining.
- It keeps your mind at peace. All the water in the ocean can’t sink the boat, but only the water that gets in to the boat. The storm outside never destroys as much as the storm inside. Hence, keep (guard) your heart with all diligence (above all), for it is the wellspring of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).
- It causes our heart to overflow (Psalm 45:1). Our tongues are writing the next chapter of our story. What is coming out of our mouths? With God there is always another conclusion.