When my daughter first began running Cross Country a few years back, she noted the importance of running within the flags. There’s a course set up and you have to go around the flags in such a way. If you go off of the course, you are in trouble. Something that I see as a big problem is the spectators. You have your eager parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc., chasing alongside the course cheering and screaming encouragement. Sometimes they get onto the course. Then you have those people who have no clue how Cross Country courses are laid out, and they walk onto the course. Many times, you will hear a parent yell for people to “get off the track” or “get off the field.” I have been that yelling parent many times. This weekend, I was that parent on three occasions. Guilty! I don’t usually yell, but when I do, you know it was me.
Thankfully none of the uninformed onlookers caused any real problems. They move quite quickly when you yell at them. However, there have been instances when runners have been slowed down because of some disruption on the course. Despite the yelling of the referees, coaches, and parents, it happens. Can you imagine running miles, training for weeks, trying to beat a record—only to have someone stroll onto the course and cause you to lose all that effort in a blink of an eye?!? Sometimes it’s a few tenths of a second. Boom.
Paul talks about us running a race. Each of us, whether we admit it or not, are running a race. It’s our Christian walk, our walk with Jesus Christ. Sometimes there will be someone who will come along as we are running our race, and he or she will cause us to stumble, to slow down, to get off course. Sometimes there will be that one person who will keep you from being where God wants you to be at and you might not even see it coming. Today, look at the track of your life. Do you have a group of encouragers, chasing along, trying to help you get to where God wants you to be? Do you have people in your life who look out for your best interests and try to equip and empower you? Or do you have someone on the field, walking along, getting you to stumble and slow down? Do you have someone who is trying to enable you to stay where you are at, when God is trying to take you somewhere new? Keep running the race. As Paul, may you finish the race.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 [NLT]
I love the term “walking in idleness.” The phrase sounds funny. If you are idle, you certainly are not walking. That requires action. This passage isn’t talking about physically walking though. This passage is focused on laziness. The Bible mentions laziness many times; each time laziness is mentioned in a negative light.
God has something for each of us to do in life. As part of one body, we each must move together in harmony, united as one for Christ. The focus is all about Jesus. The work is plentiful. Each of us a different deck of cards to bring to the table. If one or any of us are lazy, the body is not working properly. This doesn’t mean we cannot rest—this means our life isn’t complete rest.
This verse falls under the heading warning against irresponsibility. Laziness is certainly irresponsible. Think of the life God has given you—the time, talent, and treasures with which He blessed you. To not move is irresponsible. To not move, is to miss the opportunity to live for Jesus. To not move, is to allow life to pass you by without concern. Don’t be an idle walker. Walk with purpose. Walk in love. Walk for truth. Walk with Jesus.
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:6 [ESV]
There are people who do everything on their own, relying on self all of the time. These people are the independent people. They might say, “Look what I have done” or “I have to do everything myself if I want it done.” Then there are people who are dependent people. There are those who recognize that they are dependent on God (truth is we all are dependent on God), and then there are those who are dependent for everything. These are the people who will not move a finger because someone will do it for them. The first example that comes to mind is someone who enables another from growing through a situation because the dependent person plays the victim card. Another example is someone who loses a job and says, “God will get me another job” but never even attempts to fill out an application.
In today’s passage we read about Joseph approaching Joshua. The people want more land for their inheritance because they do not have a large enough area for their tribe. They ask why they were only given one portion. Joshua tells the people to go up and clear an area for themselves. The response isn’t, “Okay, we shall do that then.” The people of Joseph respond by stating again that their land isn’t enough, and that the Canaanites have chariots. Joshua had to restate what the tribe of Joseph shall do to get what they were promised.
There are moments when we are to wait on God to move but then there are moments when we are to act in faith, trusting that God will be faithful. We need to recognize the importance of listening for God’s voice so we are able to know when to wait and when to move. When we are led to move, we must move. You shall. God is with you. You shall.
“Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the Lord has blessed me?’ Joshua said to them, ‘If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.’ The people of Joseph said, ‘The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.’ Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, ‘You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.’” – Joshua 17:14-18
When I took Max for a walk, I noticed a cicada sitting on the sidewalk. I saw Max looking in the direction of the cicada and told him to let it alone. Max decided instead to look more closely at the cicada. The cicada made the familiar noise it is known for and Max jumped in the air in fear.
Max did not listen to me though I told him not to look further. I told him it was bad. He did not listen. Instead, he continued to look at the cicada and got even closer to it, allowing it to touch and frighten him. This reminded me of how we find ourselves not listening to God’s Word and the Spirit’s promptings, and instead we decide to continue down a path we were not supposed to travel. We do not realize the harm until we are up against the cicada.
Today consider what God is saying to you and trust Him when He is telling you not to do something. God is not watching to stop us from having joy and happiness in life. He wants us to have joy and happiness and so much more. He is not trying to prohibit us but to enable us.
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]