Here’s the devotional thought for today, plain and simple: Sin messes things up! So don’t do it!
God could not have been any clearer to the people. He told them not to take any of the booty from Jericho. The spoils from this victory were to be the firstfruits of Israel’s income from the endeavor God had sent them on. Remember from Exodus that the Israelites were to bring the firstfruits of their harvests to the Lord as an act of sacrifice and faith in God’s provision (Exodus 23:16). For 40 years the people had not planted crops or had an income. The city of Jericho was very symbolic as it represented the firstfruits of the promised blessing that God was fulfilling to His people.
And yet, even with the clarity of instruction, Achan could not resist. When he saw the goods, he knew he had to have it. Perhaps he felt that he deserved it because he had been without for his entire life. Perhaps he thought that God and Joshua would never notice. After all, it was just a trinket in comparison to the vast riches they had just acquired. Whatever his thoughts and rationalizations, the fact remains that Achan blew it and the nation suffered.
As modern, individualistic people, we tend to see the sin of Achan and apply it to our own personal lives. It becomes clear to us that if we get greedy and disobey God, then we will suffer the consequences. While that is a valid application point from this story, there is another that is perhaps deeper and broader. The sin of Achan affected the entire nation, even to the point where 36 innocent men died in battle. As Christians we need to reconnect to the reality that we are parts of the body of Christ. We do not live in a vacuum where our sins affect only us. Just like in the human body, when one cell turns cancerous, it begins to destroy the cells around it.
God knew that sinful attitudes are like a cancer in the collective body of His people. The story of Achan demonstrates that a cancerous cell must be dealt with quickly and decisively for the sake of the health of the body.
The next time you are tempted to give in to your cherished sin again, stop and think about all the other people in your church community. Realize that by committing that sin you are disrupting the flow in your relationship with God. When your flow gets disrupted you will stop overflowing onto others and will become disconnected. This can lead to a cascade failure and destroy a community. If you are in the moment of temptation and feel yourself giving in, reach out to God and reach out to a trusted brother or sister in the church and ask them to give you the strength to turn away and get reconnected to the flow of God. If you have committed a sin that you know is eating at your heart and jeopardizing the collective health of the body, first confess it to God, then confess it to a member of the community. Repent from it. Turn away. The worst thing you can do in that situation is to hide from others because of shame. Bring it into the light, let the fire of God’s truth burn it out, and let the balm of God’s Spirit heal it up.
Don’t just do it for your own sake, do it for the sake of the community. You are not alone.