Pride is an evil enemy in the life of a Christian! It’s a giant of a problem! Pride, the undue confidence in one’s own skills, abilities, accomplishments, possessions, or position is always easier to recognize in others than in oneself. While Jesus washed the filthy feet of sandal-wearing disciples, I tend to look for an opportunity to get my name in the headlines. How about you?
Apathy is another persistent adversary. Jesus was disgusted with the apathetic church at Laodicea. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15–16). They’d lost their passion for the Gospel. Their neighbors were hurting, hungry, and heartbroken. They simply didn’t care.
Yet another temptation is rigid traditionalism. We often get stuck in a rut. We fall into the trap of believing that there is only one way to do a thing, one solution, one right way to think. The seven last words of a dying church are: “We’ve never done it that way before.” Habits aren’t necessarily bad, but bad habits, unbending traditions, can impede discovery and innovation, leaving you stuck in a rut.
Caleb faced pride, apathy, and tradition.
Caleb was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent into Canaan. Moses instructed them, “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. Is the land they live in good or bad? Are the cities they live in encampments or fortifications? … Be courageous” (Numbers 13:17-20). Faithful to their task, “they went up and scouted out the land … They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were living” (Numbers 13:17–25).
You remember what happened. Ten of the spies reported to the Israelites about the giants. “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey… However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there … To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them” (Numbers 13:27–28, 33). The ten convinced the nation that defeating the giant Canaanites was impossible, and so they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
Four decades later, Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies, led the Children of Israel across the Jordan and in conquest of Canaan. Victory after victory, the Hebrews followed God faithfully. After defeating Jericho, Caleb went to his friend Joshua. “Give me this hill country the Lord promised me on that day, because you heard then that the Anakim are there… I will drive them out as the Lord promised” (Joshua 14:12). The Anakim, the sons of Anak, were giants! Faithful and courageous Caleb climbed the mountain at Hebron and defeated the three giants, Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai.
Who were these Goliath-sized guys? In their ancient language, Ahiman meant “my fine garments.” He was proud. Sheshai meant “who is my brother?” He didn’t care about his brother. He was apathetic. And Talmai meant “furrows” or “stuck in a rut.”
How are we going to defeat these giants, the evil enemies of pride, apathy, and rigid traditionalism? There is only one solution, one path to victory… we need God’s help… God’s grace!