Winning Wisely

In preaching through the 13 chapters of Genesis that deal with the life of Joseph, I’m compelled to elaborate on the point I made recently that temptations often come on the heels of great victories. To quote, James Montgomery Boice, “Temptations that accompany success are far more significant (and more subtle) than those that linger after adversity.” Winning changes us! Winning changes everything. Right? No. When our circumstances change, our character must not.

By the time we advance the story of the Hebrew children to the conquest of the Promised Land, the Jews are accustomed to winning. In Joshua, on two different occasions, the children of Israel experienced victories that caused grave disappointments. So far, the people of Israel had been victorious in crossing the Jordan River, entering the land, and watching the blessings of God at Jericho – This was a true success story!

But in chapter 7, they were defeated by a small band of soldiers at the little city of Ai. God’s people are never more vulnerable to danger than right after they have won a great victory. We cannot allow the spirit of victory to blind us to the possibility of defeat. 1 Cor 10:12 “Let him who thinks he stands, be careful lest he falls.” The last line of chapter 6 says: “The Lord was with Joshua.” Then chapter 7 begins with: “the Israelites, however, were unfaithful…” Firstly, (1) Defeat occurred because they felt over-confident in themselves. Victory can add to arrogance what defeat does to humility.

It is a deadly error to underrate the power of our enemies. One victory does not guarantee another victory; nor, does yesterday’s victory make us immune to today’s defeat. It is the object of our faith that gives us the victory, NOT the previous victory. In Joshua’s mind, the council of a holy few seemed more important than the counsel of His Heavenly Father.

The Israelites 2nd victory that ended in a disappointment is between chapters 8 and 9. In ch. 8, they returned to Ai and won. However, chapter 9 begins with them being deceived at Gibea. It is actually the account of Joshua learning to live with a bad decision. Have you ever been deceived?

Joshua chapter 9 tells us that: (2) Deception occurred because they failed to consult God. Isn’t it amazing how victories can unify our adversaries? Five tribes of people who were not friends became friends to be the enemy of one. When righteousness prevails, it has a way of uniting the forces of good but also uniting the forces of evil. Every victory that a Christian wins in his own personal life is an invitation for a full scale attack by the enemy of his soul. As God’s leaders, our blessings and our battles will often go side by side.

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