Focal Passages: Joshua 7:13-15, 19-21, 25-26; 8:1
Have you ever experienced the thrill and joy of a great success only to be met promptly by a resounding defeat?
It is a sobering experience, not unlike the Little Leaguer who rounds third base at full speed on his way to home plate, imagining in his mind that he is about to win the World Series, only to find himself meeting the ground early due to an unfortunate slip.
It is in those moments of failure that we are soberly reminded of our human weakness. As leaders, we are affected not just by our own limitations, but by those of the people we lead. Joshua was coming off the heels of a resounding victory at Jericho. God had delivered the city into the hands of Israel. Yet now, at only their second battle, Israel is met with defeat.
But why? Was it Joshua’s leadership? Had their military techniques failed? Had God failed to keep His promise? The text gives us a clear answer: sin. Sin had brought about the defeat. Let’s be clear, sin does not ruin God’s plans. He is almighty and His plans are never thwarted. But the rebellion in our heart, disobedience against God’s commands, inevitably causes us to stand in opposition to what God is doing. The result cannot be success.
God is Holy and perfect, and He cannot let sin go unresolved. In the battle for Ai, we find that God loves Israel too much to let them win as sin pollutes them. Sin must be dealt with.
As leaders, we should respond to sin and failures as Joshua did: we confront it, we deal with it appropriately and we move forward. God will not let sin go unchecked, but mercifully for those of us who are in Christ, sin has been dealt with decisively! We don’t ignore sin or rationalize it.
As Christ-followers we confess it and repent, painful as it may be, but we don’t wallow in defeat. Christ our Savior has conquered sin and death, therefore we press on in the battle!