Have you ever experienced the frustration of knowing the truth but no one believed you? Joshua did’and he had to live with the consequences of this for almost forty years.
Joshua was one of the twelve Israelites chosen to spy out the land of Canaan. Their report on what they saw would help and entire nation of people make a decision about entering the Promised Land. When the twelve spies gave their report, ten said it’d be impossible to conquer the land. Joshua and Caleb agreed that the task would be difficult, but they urged the people to trust God to help them. They saw God as loving, powerful, and able to lead them safely into the Promised Land.
The people, however, rebelled and sided with the majority report. They ran from the responsibility of surrendering their lives to God. The result of their irresponsibility was tragic. A whole generation’with the exception of Joshua and Caleb’died in the desert.
Many of us think we can escape pain by avoiding responsibility and its demands. What we fail to realize is that we often experience a much deeper pain when we run away from responsibility than we do when we accept it. Joshua experienced significant pain in his life despite putting God first in his life. But that pain was used by God to develop him into one of the most effective leaders in all of history.
Have you allowed your upbringing or experiences to prejudice you against a particular group of people? Women? Men? The poor? The rich? Asians? Jews? Black or White?
Prejudice leads to hatred and a lack of compassion toward others. To the contrary, God’s people are to be known for their love and compassion. Surrendering your life to God means recognizing and relinquishing your prejudices.
Take a look in the Bible at Jonah. He hated the people of Nineveh for their cruelty toward his people, the Israelites. He would’ve loved to have gone to Nineveh and declare God’s judgment against them. But God told Jonah to go and warn them of destruction so they might avoid God’s wrath. Jonah wanted no part in this mission of mercy. He tried to run away, but God wouldn’t have it. When Jonah reluctantly obeyed and preached to the Ninevites, they changed their ways. And not surprisingly, Jonah was upset at God’s mercy on the Ninevites.
God practically had to force Jonah to let go of his prejudice and hatred. This was necessary so he could share God’s mercy with the people he hated. Your spiritual transformation will be stunted until you let go of your prejudices toward any people group. Seeing your own prejudices doesn’t come easy. You need to ask God and those close to you to help you see areas of prejudice in your life. Once you see them, confess them and ask God to change your heart.