“Good Enough”

“Good Enough” March 27, 2023

Too many times, we excuse a failure to completely obey God by saying that “it’s the best we can do.”  In other words, “good enough.”  But “good enough” is never good enough when it comes to God’s way!

Scripture:       

Judges, chapters 1-3; 1 Corinthians, chapter 12

Joshua 2:1-5 (NLT):

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give to your ancestors, and I said that I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”

When the angel of the Lord finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they called the place Bokim (which means ‘weeping’), and they offered sacrifices there to the Lord.

Observations:

Joshua is gone.  He was the leader God had appointed to succeed Moses, and he had led the people faithfully throughout his life. “The people of Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him – those who had personally experienced all that the Lord had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31, NLT). In his final remarks to the people, Joshua warned them to be careful to follow God’s commands, and to not serve the gods of the people of the land.  “Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now” (Joshua 23:7-8, NLT).

But they didn’t.  God was with the people in battle, but they failed to take all of the land as God had commanded. The last half of chapter 1 is entitled, “Israel Fails to Conquer the Land.”  And even though                  some of the Canaanites and made them their slaves, they did not do what God had commanded.  That’s what led to God’s pronouncement in our passage for today.

Why Did You Do This?

The “this” that God is referring to is made clear in the preceding sentence: For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command.  I’d guess that they thought they did obey.  They took some of the land.  They subjugated the people who were there, making them their slaves (1:28, 30, 33, 35). Surely that was “good enough.”

No, it wasn’t.  Anything less than complete obedience is never “good enough.”  And the Israelites suffered the consequences of their failure to completely obey God.  I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.  Their weeping and their sacrifices (see verse 5) did not change this.  The rest of the book of Judges is the story of Israel’s downward spiral into idolatry and away from God.  And the problem started with their failure to completely obey God – they settled for “good enough.”

Application:

The problem with “good enough” is that it substitutes our judgment for God’s judgment.  Oh, we don’t think of it that way; we excuse it by saying that “we did our best.”  But no matter how we try to justify it, our failure to obey God is never “good enough.”  God understands who we are, and what we can and cannot do. The same was true with Israel. Yet when God commanded them to do something, He was always with them to help them obey.  In the end, the problem is never our ability – because God always empowers our obedience.  The problem is always with our willingness.  If we are willing, God is able!

But if we’re not willing, our disobedience will always be a thorn in our side.  As we journey with Jesus, he always calls us onward and upward.  That journey means that there will be some things, and some people, that we will need to leave behind. It also means that as we jettison some of that “baggage,” God will replace it with people and practices that are helpful to us. Particularly, God has designed his commands to strengthen and help us on our journey.  When we fail to obey – no matter how we may justify it – we substitute our judgment for His.  That’s never a good idea!

Prayer:

Father, thank you for reminding us that your commands are for our good. Guard us against the pride and presumption that leads us to think that we know better.  There is a way that seems right, but in the end it leads to destruction.  Lead us in your way, we pray, that we might see the character of Jesus formed in us more and more.  Amen.

 

""The Lord isn't slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he ..."

The Day of the Lord: A ..."
"Well put! We are to be prepared and watchful in doing the bidding of the ..."

The Day of the Lord: A ..."
"The term "evangelical" has come to have more of a political meaning than a theological ..."

Embracing Evangelism: Promote the Promise of ..."
"Evangelicals? Extremists indoctrinating children with terror? Teaching them that their fellow Americans are monsters?Religious Extremists ..."

Embracing Evangelism: Promote the Promise of ..."

Browse Our Archives