DEVOTIONAL: Do You Have A “Different Spirit”?

Caleb has a different spirit… – Numbers 14:24 (NIV)

Many of us remember being warned about “peer pressure” when we were teens…but as you grew up, did you slowly realize peer pressure is real for most adults too?

In Numbers 13:2, we read where God commanded Moses: “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders (NIV).” Verses 4-15 list their twelve names, but while ten names are forgotten, two live on. Even now, thousands of years later and on the other side of the world from where this story happened, many males bear the biblical names Joshua and Caleb.

Why? The twelve explored the Promised Land, impressed that it literally did as promised “flow with milk and honey” (v.27). However, ten quickly pivoted to the negatives of how they should not enter in. “But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there…” (v. 29 NLT). “(…) We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (v.33 NIV).

Faced with this dire “majority report,” the Israelites were seized with fear, regretted their Exodus, blamed Moses for getting them into this, and wanted to return to Egypt, even though that meant voluntarily going back into slavery.

Two, however, rejected the peer pressure and instead were first filled with remorse for the disbelief of their fellow pilgrims. “Joshua (…) and Caleb (…), who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes” (Num. 14:6 NIV). Then, the two challenged their disbelieving countrymen: “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” (14:8 NIV).

As evidence that negative people don’t appreciate being corrected, “But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb” (14:10 NLT).

Having heard enough, God stepped in and told Moses that, due to their disbelief and rebellion, even though they had recently experienced the miraculous passage through the Red Sea, the entire community would wander in the desert for forty years and all would die there (14:22-23). Except for Joshua and Caleb.

In fact, Caleb got special kudos from God. “But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land” (14:24 NLT).

How easy it is to read this story, yet how hard to stand on our own, trusting in God, even when the crowd thinks we’re crazy. British historian Arnold Toynbee is credited with claiming, “It’s doubtful the majority has ever been right.”

Mark Twain in 1904 wrote, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

Russian writer Leo Tolstoy added, “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

Take the next step: In this new year, will you be a play-it-safe, status quo, group-think follower?

Or, like Caleb, will you dare to trust God and embrace “a different spirit”?

S.D.G./S.G.D.

 

 

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