The twelve spies sent into Canaan had all seen the same land, the same cities and the same people —yet only two had confidence that they could conquer its inhabitants. Caleb said, “…Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men that went up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Num. 13:30,31). Obviously, it was what was in the spies, not Canaan, that made the big difference in their reports.
As God’s people bound for another promised land, we find our journey can likewise be affected by our attitudes toward obstacles and opposition. All too often we find our progress impeded with the “grasshopper” complex that says, “We are not able”; “We can’t do it!” To be sure, we must be practical and realistic — but these must never become disguises to hide a fearful and cowardly disposition. Perhaps “we can’t do it” because we just don’t want to — or, because we are not willing to put forth the effort or expense. Any number of different “grasshopper” motives may be responsible for our “wilderness wanderings” and lack of accomplishment. When this is allowed, we become our own worst enemies.
For this reason the confidence of Caleb is still needful among God’s people! —the kind that says, “We are able!” For example, in spite of all reports and excuses to the contrary, we are able to grow as a church. True, we will have opposition from within and without but, remember, that was the environment in which the early church had its greatest growth! Even when we have an unimpressive meeting place in a poor location; even if we don’t have all that many young people; and even if some may not want the truth, we can still have some growth if we will it and work at it.
To conclude otherwise is practically the guarantee of decadence. “We are not able” is a fitting epitaph for many a dead church.
A similar and equally discouraging report often heard in the camp of God’s people is that “we are not able” to do personal evangelism. Yes, we know the value of a soul (Matt. 16:26). We know the gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16). We know the fate of the lost (1 Thes. 1:9F). And we know God looks to His people (faithful men to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2). Yet, for some inexplicable reason many (if not most) Christians are not lifting a finger to help others to the promised land! We could not ask for more favorable conditions in which to contact and teach others and to spread the gospel! — yet, “We are not able”. WHY? Unprepared? Unconcerned? Too busy? We need desperately to face up to why we are not involving ourselves in this most urgent and important work! We can do something to help save the lost! We are able!
Finally, we are still able to have good gospel meetings. It is discouraging to hear reports to the contrary. We hear, “they won’t work”, but the problem is usually that we won’t work! When the gospel is preached and received into good hearts, only good can result (Lk. 8:15). How we need Caleb’s confidence!