In Joshua 9 an interesting dilemma arose in Israel’s history. A neighboring nation approached the Israelites disguised in order to make a treaty with them. This nation, the Gibeonites, was afraid they would be destroyed just like Jericho. At first Joshua and the leadership were skeptical, but eventually bought the lies of the Gibeonites. The Jews never sought the Lord, nor did they investigate the matter further. They were deceived and had to live with the treaty.
We too can be deceived and be coerced into bad arrangements. Maybe you are living with a few bad decisions that were not totally your own. Joshua 9 gives us some helpful guidelines to avoid making bad decisions.
1. Keep asking the difficult questions until you get adequate answers .
Joshua asked the right questions. Joshua asked, “How am I supposed to know you guys aren’t from around here?” (Joshua 9:7) He asked the hard question – he just didn’t stick with it until he got an answer. Unfortunately, people will lie to you. Maybe you have found that to be true.
We do similar things. At first we have doubts about something, but in the course of the conversation we allow our attention to get diverted and our questions go unanswered.
2. Realize that compliments don’t make you more competent.
The answer Joshua received was an attempt to butter him up. The deceiving Gibeonites replied, “You are in authority – we are merely your humble servants.” (Joshua 9:8)
Sometimes compliments are sincere. Other times they are offered with a hidden agenda.
It’s easy to get off task when someone starts throwing compliments your way. Most of us are praised so seldom, when someone does compliment us… we eat it up.
The fact that people say we’re “wise” doesn’t actually mean that we’re about to make a wise decision. Don’t get sidetracked just because someone is saying nice things to you.
3. Know that God’s Name being invoked is no guarantee.
This is a major weakness for a lot of Christians. We presume if the name of God comes up, then we definitely have a green light to go forward.
I wish I could say that is true, but the sad reality is that there are a lot of people who invoke the name of God while having other agendas. There are a lot of people who will talk about God while lying to your face.
Ever had a salesman start talking about Jesus when he/she finds out you are a Christian. Enough said!
4. Always talk to God about it.
“So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.” (Joshua 9:14)
This was, without a doubt, Israel’s greatest mistake. God would have given them insight if they had only asked.
Sometimes our prayer lives get so focused on people’s problems and needs, we forget to pray about the solution they really need.
I have to constantly remind myself, “pray the solution, not the problem.” If I become “problem focused” I will never hear or believe God for the answer.
5. Understand that a “good offer” is not the same as a “God offer”.
“Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.” (Joshua 9:15)
The offer of peace seemed to be a good one. Why not take it if it’s a good offer? Well, the fact that it was a good offer doesn’t mean it was what God wanted them to do. In fact, it was not God’s will at all.
At times “good deals” appeal to us because we are not deep in the Word and are not familiar enough with God’s will. In fact, “God’s will” appears foreign when we are not “asking, seeking and knocking.”
This is because we have such low expectations of anything God might do for us that we’re quick to accept what the enemy offers.
6. Know that many bad decisions have consequences that God cannot magically erase.
The Israelites had to live with the treaty, even though it’s not God’s will. The die had been cast.
Yes, God can cause “all things to work together for good.” But sometimes a lot of time may have to pass before things are good again.