April 13 – The Unexpected Cost

Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 7:20)

Read: Joshua 7:16 – 9:2, Luke 16:1-18, Psalm 82:1-8, Proverbs 13:2-3

Relate: They had just won a resounding victory. The walls of Jericho were supposed to be impregnable. Nobody was supposed to be able to breach them. But the Israelites went for a bit of a stroll, had a bit of a hallelujah worship session, and those walls came tumbling down. Just like that. The jewel of the Jordan was plundered. The next city in line really shouldn’t even have the right to be called a town, let alone a city. The village of Ai, the hamlet, shouldn’t need any more than 2% of the entire fighting force. Three thousand men is plenty. Give the rest of the army a few days off.

That was the thinking, but those three thousand men were routed soundly. Thirty-six men were carried home on their shields. Three dozen men left grieving parents and wives and children behind them. Why? One man’s greed. God had given the command that none of the plunder of Jericho was to be touched. It was the firstfruits of the conquest of Canaan and the firstfruits always belong to God. One man decided God probably had plenty from everything else and He wouldn’t mind if I just took a little bit for myself. Three dozen other men (and eventually himself and his family were killed because of this sin.

In Luke, an accountant is about to be sacked by his boss. At best he had been a bit lazy with the books but more likely he had been embezzling his boss’s money and then blowing it on himself. Either way, he was caught and a meeting was coming up at which he would have to give an accounting. There were no welfare lines in his future. He knew no one else would hire him for the same job after the way he had botched it here. It was either getting a job down at the farm or grabbing a bowl and hoping people would drop him a little spare change here and there. He was too weak for the first and too proud for the latter. So instead he cooks up a last ditch plan to win some wealthy friends.

A gallon of olive oil goes for about $30. Wheat runs about $7 per bushel. By today’s prices, this manager in one day’s work cost his boss about $13,400. The financial equivalent in Jesus’ time would be much closer to ten times that. Either way, the manager’s sin benefited himself but cost his boss thousands of dollars.

React: It doesn’t matter what my sin is, it doesn’t just effect me. My laziness, my apathy, my greed, my addiction, my lust, my… whatever. You name it. It has spiritual consequences far beyond even the scope of those I know and come into contact with. Israel had six hundred thousand men of fighting age. What are the odds that any of the thirty-six who were killed knew Achan? But still his greed killed them. There is a famous saying, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” The sad truth is, you are never the only one who has to pay. The ripple effects will always go further than we can ever possibly imagine.

Respond: 

Dear God,
Please forgive me. I have no idea how far the consequences of my sin have gone. Please forgive. One thing that I do know is that Your grace is greater. Please extend Your grace on to every soul who has been hurt by my actions. There is no taking back what I have said and done, but there is an outpouring of Your love and mercy that covers all my sin. I pray that You pour it out on any and everyone I might have hurt. Help me to strive for holiness even as Your grace covers those times I have failed. In everything, let Your Name be glorified.
Amen

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