She stood before me and shrugged. “It’s not affecting anyone else.” So she thought. She honestly didn’t see how her lack of obedience to God hurt anyone else. The consequences didn’t seem that bad. After all, she’d obey eventually. Probably.
Unfortunately, she is not alone. I’ve heard many others express similar beliefs.
- My sin is private.
- My faith is personal.
- What happens in my house is no one else’s business.
Sigh. If only these statements were the whole truth. Honestly, the whole truth is a bit more uncomfortable.
One Man’s Private Sin
I believe that the measure of a person’s life is the affect they have on others. ~Steve Nash, Canadian athlete
When is the last time you read the book of Numbers? Yes, the Old Testament book that includes a census and lists of descendants. I know . . . but it has some great tidbits of truth too. For example, Chapter 25 tells a story important to today’s lesson.
While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them (Numbers 25:1-3).
You may remember that God forbade the Israelites from mixing with the locals wherever they traveled because He knew that these people would draw Israel into worshipping false gods. Even though it seemed restrictive, His command was for Israel’s good. Similarly, the punishment for breaking God’s law seemed harsh but was also for Israel’s good.
The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor” (verses 4-5).
It doesn’t stop there.
Verse 6 adds to the drama. “Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”
The nation is weeping over the weight of the sin of some within their midst, and this man has the audacity to continue on with it. Can you imagine?
We each better check our own heart before shaking our head in disbelief.
The Ultimate Price
When one of the priests saw the man bring the woman into his tent, the priest grabbed a spear and killed them both with one thrust.
A few of the men of Israel had disobeyed. At least one of those men had brought his disobedience directly into the camp. But here’s the warning for us: the whole nation paid the price. After we’re told about the priest killing one of the offenders, the Bible says, “Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000″ (verses 8-9).
The plague didn’t consume the offenders. It was against the entire nation. And twenty-four thousand died.
Jericho and Ai
Lest you think I’m making too big a deal about this, consider when Joshua first leads Israel into the Promised Land. Remember the battle of Jericho? They marched around the city once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day, blew some trumpets, shouted and the walls fell down? You can read the story in Joshua 6.
The Lord declared the city was His. The Israelites could remove the gold, bronze, and such to the treasury, but everything else was to be destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Joshua told the Israelites, “Keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it” (Joshua 6:18).
Jericho was destroyed without a single loss to Israel, but a man named Achan couldn’t resist. And when Israel attacked the next city, Ai, not only was Israel forced to flee from this much easier target, but thirty-six men were killed. Thirty-six families devasted and an entire nation disheartened because one man took one robe, five pounds of silver, and a little over one pound of gold. Read more in Joshua 7.
The New Testament Declaration
What is going on here? Does God truly punish the innocent for the crimes of others? Oh, first let’s remember that none of us are innocent. We may not have committed the same crime as others, but all of us are guilty of something.
Second, we must remember the principle of the body of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Yes, our faith is personal, and our individual place in eternity is secured by our own thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
However, those who are part of the family of God are irrevocably linked together as one. Each of our sins, every act of disobedience and delayed obedience, affects everyone else. We cannot forget that in the midst of our individual responsibility we also have a communal responsibility that we cannot escape.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body (1 Corinthians 12:15).
God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (verses 12:24-26).
Nobody can defeat you when you all are working together. ~Jason PIerre-Paul, American athlete
Your actions, attitudes, and behaviors matter. As do mine. Not just for our own salvation, but for the effectiveness of the body of Christ as a whole.
All of us need other people in our lives. That’s another uncomfortable truth that I learned the hard way. But how do you find godly friends who are trustworthy with the tough stuff in our lives? That’s the focus on my fifth book in the Beyond Warrior’s Bride series.
Other military spouses can be one of the biggest stressors in a wife’s life. From gossipers to back-biters to spouse shamers, the problem is reaching epidemic proportions, and many don’t know what to do about it.
What if you could find a better way? Instead of attacking the problem-women head on or avoiding all women entirely, what if you could find women worth knowing and cherishing?
No matter where you are, God placed around you women of great value, women who strive to love Him first, and women who want to love and encourage you. Instead of resigning yourself to a life of loneliness, let Carrie Daws show you who to avoid and what characteristics to look for in quality friends.
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