Action or Excuses?

By Amos Davenport

Joshua and Caleb were men of faith and action. Their report was an enthusiastic “Let us go up and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” The other ten spies said, “We be not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we” (Num. 13). The ten may have been correct in their comparison of the physical strength of the two groups of people, but theirs was a report of excuses rather than faith and action. All twelve of the spies knew that, since the days of Abraham, God had promised to give His people the land. They had recently seen the divine intervention and providence of God in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the giving of the Law from the Holy Mount. Joshua and Caleb believed “our God is able” and seemed anxious to see the power of God demonstrated once ‘again. The congregation believed the report of the ten. So God determined that only Joshua and Caleb, from the number of men ,of military age when Israel left Egypt, should be among those receiving the promise.

If human wisdom was to dictate the actions of Israel, there was no desirable option open to them. This they were to learn soon after making the decision to follow the report of the ten. They could not go back to Egypt, the Red Sea was in the way. Even if they did go back, this would mean a return to bondage. They could not stay in the wilderness for very long because they did not have an adequate supply of food or water. They had elected not to go up and possess the land of promise. So, they were completely dependent upon God to care for them, whichever report they believed and followed. In any case their care would be contrary to human wisdom and reasoning. They were cared for as they wandered aimlessly and hopelessly in the wilderness for forty years until a new generation could be raised up that would have the faith to go up and possess the land.

This was written for our learning; will we learn from it? If we are looking for excuses the devil will provide them. If we are interested in an increased faith, God has already provided the means for increasing it. Have we become so caught up with big things, and so enamored with mass communication, the printing press, radio, television and huge auditoriums that we have forgotten that souls are saved one at a time? While we are devising ways of spanning continents with the gospel on the air waves, our next door neighbor may die and go to hell. While some congregations take pride in how many preachers they help to support, there is absolutely no plan for the future of the work at home. Although we are willing to drop a few dollars in the contribution basket on Sunday morning to assist the work elsewhere, are we willing to miss a ball game, a television program, or a “party” to reach the local lost? The present crises in fuel shortages and unemployment could very well be the things that will increase spirituality, if we will but use the additional time and manpower made available by them to the honor and glory of God. Although we may very well have fewer dollars to give into “the treasury” we may have even greater opportunities to give of ourselves, our time, and cur energies. The Lord has no use for our money anyway, except as it is converted to energy and effort to reach the lost.

Already many manufacturing plants are laying off employees by the thousands. What are members of the Lord’s church doing with this additional time? Are you using some of it in studying with your neighbor, friend or fellow employee? Would you knock on that neighbor’s door and invite him to attend the services with you? Would you begin a Bible study in your home and invite him to attend? Would you set up a study in his home? If you do not feel competent to teach the class, no doubt you know someone who will teach it. Would you enroll him in a correspondence study? Brethren, when possible, let us plan the “special efforts” around those times when some have additional time to spend in advertising and participating in those efforts to strengthen ourselves and reach the lost. I am convinced many among us with ability, interest and zeal, merely need a little direction or encouragement to become involved in these things. There are many Joshua’s and Caleb’s in this land and around the world. Their cry -still is, “Let us go up and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Unfortunately, they are still far outnumbered by those who “bring an evil report.” Which will characterize us action or excuses?

Truth Magazine XIX: 29, p. 456
May 29, 1975