"No one who has treated me with such repeated contempt will see [the Promised Land].” [Numbers 14:23, MSG]
These are pretty arresting words from God. There's a cycle that the people have "repeated" - contempt that has brought on God's appropriate judgement. How do we break such cycles of negativity, towards God, towards ourselves, towards the world around us? 10 Israelite leaders were the latest to practice this contempt of God - but the Israelite's hadn't long moved beyond their previous decision to treat God and His promises with great disrespect.
Notice it takes repeated contempt against God to bring on the judgement of God. We must never make the mistake of allowing the final decision of God to judge our poor choices to create a picture of a vengeful and vindictive Deity just looking to pick out our ever misstep and mistake. But the question remains: How do we break such cycles of negativity towards God, ourselves, and the world around us?
You are thinking, "what are you on about?" Fear is key to breaking the cycle of negativity. But not just any fear. Fear of God.
It's referred to throughout the bible, especially in the Old Testament (E.g., Psalm 111:10), but also in the New Testament:
"Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience." (2 Co 5:11)
It sounds like Paul, who wrote this above quoted verse, is speaking with great freedom - working to persuade people because he had nothing to hide from God or the Corinthian church.
The fear of the Lord brings freedom. Sounds like a sentence that doesn't make sense. How can fear bring freedom?
Avoid or Advance
If we live a life where we listen to the negative - towards God, ourselves, and the world around us - we end up without trust in God and we soon enough find ourselves in stuck in places lacking faith, hope and the power to fulfill the destiny God has got us on the planet to advance into.
Avoiding the scary or hard only reinforces the belief that you cannot handle it. On the other hand, facing our negativity towards God, ourselves and the world around us teaches us to discover His all-sufficient grace and strength for every situation and need.
Facing your challenges is never going to be easy - the Israelite's did have to fight the Canaanites who were a formidable enemy. But, as Jesus Himself teaches us in the New Testament:
"With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26)
A healthy fear of God keeps us with the God for whom all things are possible. The Israelite's in Numbers got into a cycle of negativity and fear of everything but God.
Get a healthy fear of being against God, which is another way of explaining what the fear of God is, keeps you with the Mighty Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Only He can break any and every cycle. Only He can help you advance into the destiny He made you for.
So as we go about this week and start really going back into the world, remember to keep examining how you think and interpret things and focus on being with God, rather than against Him.
Written collaboratively by Ashleigh Crosilla (who is also a qualified Psychologist) and Rob.