The choices we make and the actions we take have a consequence beyond ourselves. Like a stone dropped into a pond, they have a ripple effect. Despite decades of contemporary culture telling us that we can do what we like and if it feels good and doesn't hurt anybody, well that's ok then.
But it's not OK in God's eyes. Joshua chapter 7 is one of the most sobering in the whole book! And it is a lesson in the dangers of compromise. God's people are moving forward with purpose, taking possession of the promised land. Then because of one man's compromise, their army suffers a humiliating defeat.
God tells Joshua about sin in the camp and step by step Achan is identified. His sin? He had taken for himself some of the plunder from Jericho instead of giving it to God's treasury. The stuff was buried in the ground under his tent and you can guess that he never imagined that anybody would ever know about it. He was doing his own thing without realising that his actions weren't simply compromising his own life, they were compromising all of God's people.
God calls Christians to live wholeheartedly for Him. The Bible is full of direction for how we're to live and the Holy Spirit gives us the grace to live for Him. Grace isn't something that just mops up our mistakes, the true work of grace is God strengthening us to live for Him. But if we deliberately make choices that go against God then we risk our own lives and the effectiveness of the Christians around us.
I am sure that Achan only helped himself to a little bit of plunder, a tiny amount by comparison with the whole spoils of Jericho but even that small amount betrayed compromise in his heart. And in our lives, it's the little compromises that we reason away that betray the true condition of our hearts.
In the book of First Corinthians, Paul writes about those who take communion in an unworthy manner and writes that this creates a wider problem. "That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." The actions of a few affect the strength of the whole church in Corinth. Christians are sick and not being healed because of the choices of a few.
We cannot afford to compromise our devotion to God and our behaviour. Compromises can be small ones like a dating couple choosing to put themselves in the path of temptation by having a weekend break alone together. Or it may be a Christian who chooses to have a romantic relationship with a non Christian. It may be the bigger compromise like the unfortunate pregnancy which is aborted and covered up or lies, stealing or a secret internet porn addiction.
If you read Joshua 7, you can see the consequences as God exposes the sin and deals with Achan. There are plenty of secret compromises that are made and we think that nobody will ever know. But even in these days, God has a way of bringing what is in darkness out and exposing it into His light. The consequences can be devastating.
We need to be people who live wholeheartedly for God and avoid compromise. And if we do fall for sin, let's be quick at turning it around because it isn't simply your life that is weakened but the lives of all the Christians around you.
How many church initiatives have been fruitless because of hidden sin in the camp? God wants to move His entire church forward, let's choose not to hold it back by our own secrets and lifestyle choices. Today is a good day to re-dedicate ourselves to serve God with all our energies and passion.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Freelance Broadcaster and Journalist
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