The Pryor Times

September 27, 2012

Being different can be a good thing

On The Go

Evangelist, Chouteau Hills Church of Christ
Steve Lay

— One of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is Caleb.  Caleb was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land.  All twelve of the spies agreed that the land was great, but ten of them reported that the inhabitants of the land were too strong and too powerful to be overthrown.  The Israelites looked like grasshoppers compared to them, they said.  Besides that, massive walls protected the cities in Canaan.  

Those ten spies thus reported that they should not try to take the land.  Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies who wanted to go ahead and take the land.  The Israelites sided with the ten spies and were thus destined to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

Caleb was willing to be different because he wanted to obey God promptly.  His desire to do God’s will promptly is seen in his words found in Numbers 13:30, where he said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”  He was willing to go against the majority.  God said in Numbers 14:24, “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”  Caleb realized that if he just did part of what God commanded, he would still be disobedient.  James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  If a criminal is in prison for committing just one crime, he is still a law-breaker.

Because Caleb was willing to be different, he wanted to obey even though the rest were not willing.  God noticed that Caleb had a different spirit.  That spirit was the spirit of total commitment.  Total commitment leads to prompt obedience.  Those who are totally committed to God today will have the same attitude.  They will want to obey God promptly, even if it means they have to be different from most other people.

Jesus said that only a few would enter the narrow gate and travel the difficult way, but it is the way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14).  Since most people are going the wrong way, one must be willing to be different in order to make it to heaven.  While ten of the spies were thinking about their own comfort, convenience, and personal preference, Caleb was only thinking about obeying God.  Total commitment leads to total obedience, regardless of inconvenience or a personal desire for something different.

Many people today are content with the bare minimum.  They want to do as little as possible.  When obstacles are so large that we seem like grasshoppers, it is easy to make excuses.  But total commitment will give us the faith and courage to go forward.  We must not focus on obstacles or enemies, but on the task at hand.  Caleb saw the large cities with great walls around them.  But unlike the others, he said, “We are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).  He knew God would help them.

The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).  Similarly, Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Satan will always see that we have opposition and excuses to discourage our obedience to God.  But I John 4:4 reminds us, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  God gives us the victory through Jesus Christ.

We can trust God in everything.  Caleb did, and he received his mountain because he was willing to be different.  He wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.  Are you willing to be different?  May God help each of us to obey Him promptly and completely without making excuses.