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The Ten Spies vs. the Two Spies
AS ISRAEL approached the Jordan River, Moses sent out twelve spies to investigate the Promised Land. One spy from each of the twelve tribes of Israel entered Canaan, explored the land, and returned with a report. All twelve had the same external experiences, but the internal conclusions of ten differed markedly from the other two. Joshua and Caleb filed the minority report, but they happened to be right. What could account for these differing opinions?
1. All twelve spies were leaders in their tribes (13:2).
2. All twelve spies received the same promise (13:2).
3. All twelve spies received the same opportunities (13:2).
1. Ten said “no”
2. Misunderstood their mission
3. Saw God in light of their circumstances
1. Two said “go”
2. Understood their mission
3. Saw circumstances in light of their God
After their return, ten of the spies displayed a horrible attitude about the whole endeavor. It’s not hard to see why. You can’t find God anywhere in their report; they don’t mention His name even once. Their sour disposition, pessimistic perspective, and negative report spread like a plague throughout the Israelite camp. “It was, indeed, a land flowing with milk and honey—but there were giants in the land!” they declared. “There is no way we can enter and possess it.”
Although Joshua and Caleb took the very same trip and saw the same things witnessed by the other ten spies, they returned with an enthusiastic, positive report. They never doubted the Israelites could take the land. They based their glowing report on God’s track record with the nation through the desert. They freely admitted the obstacles, but knew nothing could stand in the way of God. They came back saying, “Yes, there are giants in the land, but they’re midgets compared with our God. We can take them and the land! And by the way, Canaan really does flow with milk and honey.”
The Major Difference: Attitude!
The only difference between those who delivered the majority and minority reports was internal. Their differing reports reflected contrary attitudes toward the land, the divine promises, the people in Canaan, the work involved, the Lord, and themselves. Consider the attitudes of the majority:
1. Disobeyed God
2. Believed the land had no future
3. Displayed cowardice based on fear
4. Utterly ignored God in their report
5. Suffered from a grasshopper complex
The result? These ten naysayers spread anxiety throughout Israel’s camp. Their rotten attitudes infected the whole congregation until the spiritual contagion could not be contained. Notice who got blamed for the nation’s negative response: “Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we’ ” (Deut. 1:28). Through a negative majority report, this ancient commission deprived nearly two million people of their inheritance in Canaan. Through their poisonous influence, the Israelites were driven back into the wilderness to die, and God delayed in fulfilling His purpose for His chosen people for 40 frustrating years.
If only they had listened to the minority! Consider their vastly better attitude:
1. Obeyed God
2. Insisted they should enter and possess the land
3. Displayed courage rooted in faith
4. Felt calm assurance
5. Saw themselves in relationship to God
The result? Caleb and Joshua stayed alive for a new era, while the other ten spies perished in the wilderness along with the rest of the adults of that unbelieving generation.
Attitude makes all the difference. The development of a positive attitude is the first conscious step toward becoming an effective leader. Successful leadership cannot be constructed without this crucial building block. Check out the following attitude axioms suggested by the words and actions of Joshua and Caleb:
1. Our attitude determines our approach to life.
2. Our attitude determines our relationships with people.
3. Our attitude is often the only difference between success and failure.
4. Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect its outcome more than anything else.
5. Our attitude can turn problems into blessings.
6. Our attitude can give us an uncommonly positive perspective.
7. Our attitude is not automatically good just because we belong to God.
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