Go up and Possess It
Look, the LORD your God has set the land before
you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you;
do not fear or be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 1:21)
One of the paradoxes of the Christian life is that
God’s gifts often require labor on our part. God brought the Israelites to the
Promised Land and told them He was going to “give” it to them (Num. 13:2). The
gift of the Promised Land sounded great to the Israelites until they realized
that, with the gift, came battles against giants and fortified cities! Perhaps
they assumed God was going to obliterate the inhabitants of the land before
they entered. Ideally for the Israelites, they could then have entered a vacant
land with houses and cities already built and ready to inhabit.
Instead, God said they would have to fight for it.
They would not have to fight in their own strength, however; God would be
present to fight for them. God would bring down the walls of cities, give them
strategies to defeat their enemies, and empower their warriors to fight. The
Israelites would have a divine advantage over anyone they fought, but they
would still have to fight.
It would be wonderful if, when we become
Christians, God would fill our minds with a complete knowledge of the Bible and
with Bible verses already memorized. It would be easy if God would instill in
us a delight in spending hours in prayer each day and a fearless desire to
share our faith with others. But God doesn’t relate to us that way. Instead, He
gives us the free gift of His salvation and then tells us to “work out” our salvation
in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12b). Are you discouraged because the Christian
life is more difficult and challenging than you expected? Don’t be. God’s gifts
to you are perfect because, through them, God makes you perfect as well (Matt.
5:48; James 1:17).