Joshua 1:10-15 (NIV) 10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'” 12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers 15 until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
On verses 10-15: Joshua is leading the Israelites toward Canaan, also known as the promised land. To get there, Joshua and the Israelites would need to go west and cross the Jordan River. However, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, though they were part of the Israelites, had an agreement with Moses, Joshua’s predecessor, that instead of settling in the promised land west of the Jordan River, they could settle in the land just east of the Jordan. Joshua respects and upholds this agreement, telling the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh that their wives, children and livestock may stay in the land just east of the Jordan, but that the men from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh must still cross the Jordan River with the rest of the Israelites and help the rest of the Israelites fight and take over the promised land. Only after they have helped conquer the promised land could the men from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh return to the land just east of the Jordan and settle there.
What can we learn from this? God wants His people to be great team players, not people who just look out for their own individual comfort and convenience. We are called to fight and sacrifice for the good of all of God’s people. How well do you love God’s people, the church? Do you stop loving God’s people and God’s church the moment it’s no longer convenient for you, or the moment you think you have everything you need? Or do you willingly serve God’s people even if it means delaying or postponing your own comfort, convenience and security? As a Christian you were made to grow more like Christ, and a huge part of growing more like Christ is becoming an increasingly unselfish person, someone who gives himself up for the good of God’s people because that’s what Jesus did. As Philippians 2:3-5 says:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
In the church don’t just be a self-centered consumer who just takes and takes and who puts his own comfort and convenience ahead of the needs of God’s people. Instead, be a contributor who gives, a great team player who looks out for other people’s needs, not just your own.
Joshua 1:16-18 (NIV) 16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
On verses 16-18: Here the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh willingly submit to Joshua’s leadership. Just as Joshua commanded, they agree not to settle in their own land until they have helped the rest of their fellow Israelites get their own land.
What can we learn from this? For any team to function effectively, there needs to be an element of healthy submission to the team’s leaders. Imagine a basketball team where no one listens to the coach and each player just does their own thing. Such a basketball team will never be successful. Imagine a business where no one listens to the boss; rather each staff member does whatever they want whenever they want. Such a business will never thrive.
The same goes for God’s church. For any team to accomplish great things, there needs to be unity, and an important part of unity is a healthy submission to those who lead. As Hebrews 13:17 says,
Hebrews 13:17 (NIV) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
How well do you submit to the leaders God has placed in your life, whether it’s at home, church, work, school or a team you play on? The success of the team will depend a great deal on how much each member buys in philosophically to the concept of team and submits practically to the leaders of that team, instead of just doing their own thing. How good of a team player are you?
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would not just be someone who takes and consumes in Your kingdom, but someone who gives and contributes, for it is in giving and serving others where my life, destiny and joy can be found. I pray that I would be a great team player, submitting to the leaders You have placed in my life and doing my part to build the team. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!