Nov9TueNovember 9, 2021
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JOSHUA 22:31 (ESV)
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, ‘Today we know that the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord.’”
GOD’S SPIRIT AT WORK
Recently, my wife and I caught one of our children lying to us. At first, there was a denial about the offense, but eventually the truth came out. Even though it was a difficult parenting moment, we are thankful that it did not escalate. By God’s grace, it even opened some doors for healthy dialogue. We were able to have some deeper conversations about honestly and integrity. Hopefully, our child learned something through this experience and will see the value of those characteristics over the years to come.
Most adults understand that both honesty and integrity are necessary ingredients within any relationship, especially among those who live or work closely together. As you know, honesty refers to making intentions visible through clearly communicated words. Integrity refers to fulfilling promises with intentional actions. Both are like water and air to a plant. Without them, a relationship will turn prickly and eventually shrivel and die.
Their presence are not only ingredients for a healthy relationship, but they are also evidence of God’s spirit at work among a community of people. When integrity is chosen over apathy and honesty is chosen over dodging the truth (which is what we desire for our children), these decisions can serve as a way of making God’s glory visible. The result is thankful praise!
The historical account from Joshua 22 communicates a moment like this. Earlier in the chapter, we learn that the tribes to the east of the Jordan River decided to build a replica of the altar for worship. It was intended to be a large witness for unity between the east and the west – a reminder that both sides worshipped the same God and would continue for generations to come.
However, it was not perceived this way. The western tribes assumed the altar was for idolatry. They also assumed that the Lord would bring destruction upon them for such an act of unfaithfulness among their nation. Therefore, they immediately went into a posture of war. This is biblical account where a simple misunderstanding almost led to a civil war.
But after a gracious confrontation between leaders on both sides, the intentions of the east became known. The eastern tribes had nothing to hide. They had built a massive stone altar, but they were not sinning. They were following the Lord’s commands to walk in His ways and serve Him with an undivided heart (v5) and were hoping to foster such a unified attitude along both sides of the river for generations to come. As a result of their honesty and integrity, Phinehas, the priest publicly pointed out that “the Lord was in their midst”.
This week, whenever you see a brother or sister-in-Christ make an honest statement or choose the path of integrity, celebrate that moment as divine. God’s spirit is at work around us each day. He leads ordinary people to do what is right even when it may be convenient to do otherwise.
Open our eyes, O Lord, to celebrate your Spirit at work today. Through Jesus, Amen!