April 23 – A Job Half Done

Read: Judges 1:1-2:9, Luke 21:29-22:13, Psalm 90:1-91:16, Proverbs 13:24-25

The tribe of Benjamin, however, failed to drive out…
The tribe of Manasseh failed to drive out…
 The tribe of Ephraim failed to drive out…
The tribe of Zebulun failed to drive out…
The tribe of Asher failed to drive out…
Likewise, the tribe of Naphtali failed to drive out…
As for the tribe of Dan, the Amorites forced them back into the hill country and would not let them come down into the plains. (Judges 1:21-34)

Relate: I don’t smoke. I never have, but sometimes back in the States I would go out with smokers on their smoke breaks to carry on a conversation or to just hang out. It felt like at least half the time, as soon as the other person lights up they say one of two things, “I’m sorry” or some version of “I’m cutting back/I can quit anytime I want.” I didn’t have to say anything. I didn’t have to tell them how wrong what they are doing is. My choice to be with them but to still refuse to participate in their habit sent two strong messages that would have been spoiled by words.

In my mind, however, as soon as they say their version of the quitting line, I would respond, “No you can’t.” If they could quit any time they wanted to, they would have. Their rationalization to me shows that they know it is wrong. They know how much money gets drained into making their body unhealthy… if they really could quit they would. It is just that some things just can’t be done alone.

The Israelites had the same problem. They didn’t want to be forced to live in the hills. They didn’t want their enemies to still have the best lands and the best towns. The problem is, after that first generation died off, each tribe went off on its own and no tribe was strong enough alone to do what needed to be done. Seven tribes are listed as only doing a half job. The tribes not listed, Reuben, Gad, Simeon, Judah, Levi all had outside in clearing out their land and cities. (Issachar also isn’t mentioned here but the next time we see them they are working with the other tribes to help Deborah and Barak)

React: In the job of working out my salvation, in the task of pursuing holiness, how often do I leave the job half done? In the “continuing to choose” from yesterday, how often to I fail to make the right choice in the same area over and over again? One of the worst named movies of all time is probably the “Lone Ranger”. The title is a lie. He is almost never alone. Even in the title poster you can see him walking side by side with Tanto. His clarity of purpose, the means and method of accomplishing his mission, even his very life he owes to that other man. He is not a lone ranger. Neither am I.

The problem is, if I seek help from others I need to put aside my pride. If I want complete victory, I need first to expose my weakness. To be lifted up, I need first be humble. That isn’t any fun. It is so much easier to settle for mediocrity. It is so much more comfortable to do the half job that I can do on my own and leave it at that. The book of Judges begins with the story of a job half done and continues on in a cycle of failure throughout. Will my life be a cycle of failure or will I humble myself to seek out others for the help I need? Will I let the church be the church in my life?

Respond: 

Dear God,
I can’t do this thing called life on my own. Especially without You I am doomed to fail, but if I am unwilling to plug into church, to plug into community, then I am destined to fail. Help me to be willing to be humble. Help me to be willing to be vulnerable. You have placed others in my life to help me just as much as You have called me to be a help to others. Help me to be actively seeking out both.
Amen

 

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3 thoughts on “April 23 – A Job Half Done

  1. EXCELLENT! BTW let me toss in something. Romans chapter 12 begins with a call to devotion “present yourselves as a living sacrifice” is in the context of a chapter full of community engagement. I do recognize that sacredness of individual responsibility but left alone we will not do well.

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