Our conclusions about circumstances are almost always more important than the circumstances themselves.
Today, we will examine the story of the twelve spies in Numbers 13 and 14. The spies were commissioned to give a report to Moses and the children of Israel concerning the land God had promised to them. After forty days, they came back to Moses and were divided into two groups: 1) Joshua and Caleb, and 2) the other ten spies. Both saw the same set of circumstances but put a different conclusion to what they saw. Again, our conclusions about circumstances are almost always more important than the circumstances themselves.
A conclusion is “an opinion or decision that is formed after a period of thought or analysis.” Many factors contribute to how we make conclusions. Some of them are:
Whether we have the habit of magnifying the Lord or magnifying the problem (Psalm 34:3)
Whether we have been renewing our minds on spiritual faith food or worldly doubt food (Romans 12:2)
Whether we believe God has equipped us to be victorious or has not really promised that (Deuteronomy 28)
Whether we believe that opposition to our promises is normal or not (1 Timothy 1:18)
Here are some great truths from the story of the twelve spies that will help us attach higher conclusions to the circumstances we face:
Future blessings motivate us to keep going and to not give in easily to fear-based conclusions – “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, and I have the power to help make it so. There is something good to fight for regarding our families, cities, and nations.
Giants to defeat should not surprise us – “Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28). It is in the process of overcoming these giants that we develop the character to be able to steward the promised blessings well.
The more we talk about our problems; the worse our conclusions get – “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan” (Numbers 13:29). As we mature, we learn to share the facts of a situation without releasing a concluding, spirit of unbelief in what we say.
People of courage are present in every challenge and have a different perspective – “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said,‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it’” (Numbers 13:30). Joshua and Caleb found each other, and unlike the other 10 spies, their perspective allowed them to enter the promised land. It is wise to build relationships with people of courage now.
Our conclusions largely depend on what reports we listen to and receive – “And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature” (Numbers 13:32). It takes no effort at all to be pessimistic or to have a victim mindset about the future, but we are empowered to overcome these and every obstacle we face.
Who we think we are will largely determine the conclusions we make about life’s circumstances – “Here we saw thegiants . . . and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33). It is often not what we think of God that stops us, but it is what we think about ourselves that prevents the promises from being realized.
Those who say they can, and those who say they can’t are both right – The ten spies said they could not win and they didn’t. Joshua and Caleb said they could win and they did.
Our conclusions about the following situations are almost always more important than the situations themselves:
Problems at work
You and I are the Joshuas and Calebs of this generation. Because we magnify the Lord, not the problem, we are increasingly concluding from faith and not fear.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.