“For Achan…took of the accursed thing.”
Joshua 7: 1
King James Version
“A Monkey Grip”
“All things that a (woman) owns hold (her) far more than (she) holds them.”
What am I holding on to that holds me more tightly than God?
“Mine! There isn’t any such thing as mine. The world slips slithering through my fingers.”
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or worse! – stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
Matthew 6: 19-21
Many years ago, I went to the zoo with my nieces where we were amused by the playful antics of the chimpanzees. One in particular grabbed a piece of food outside a protected area and was trying in every way possible, to pull that tasty morsel back into the protected habitat. The problem was that the food and the chimp’s clinched fist, couldn’t slip through the bars. The chimp had to let go of what it wanted and you can only imagine the noisy frustration this creature displayed. Of course, everybody watching the spectacle was roaring with laughter, but none of us would have thought it so funny if, at that moment, we’d all been informed that we are like little chimps with our grabbing at this, that and the other! Don’t get me wrong, we have more than enough help in this world for someone is always trying to make us feel “less than” if we don’t have the latest fashion design or newest model of car or the fanciest home conveniences. Advertisers constantly pepper us with the, “You have to have this,” mantra and what’s so sad is that we are such willing accomplices. At least I know I am. I laughed the other day when my daily stack of catalogs filled the mailbox. In one was a sign that said, “I’ve been shopping all my life, and I still don’t have anything to wear.” I hate to admit this but I could relate to those words. With a closet full of clothes, we still feel we lack something.
If you happen to think our lust for more is a modern day problem, then I encourage you to look at Joshua 7: 1. The background to this text is found in Joshua 6. God promised Joshua victory in the capture and destruction of Jericho. But there was this caveat which is described in Joshua 6: 17-18 “And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord…and ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed….” God made it clear. “Keep your hands off of the trinkets in Jericho. They will bring you nothing but “trouble.”
In order for us to more clearly comprehend God’s instruction, let’s take a look at two words in this passage: “Keep” and “Accursed.”
The word “keep” in the Hebrew means “hedge.” It means “protect.” And if we put these two words together, we come up with the visual image of a protecting hedge that keeps out predators and trespassers. Now let’s look at the word “accursed.” The word “cherem” is the Hebrew word for “accursed” which means “usually a doomed object,” and further the idea with this Hebrew word is that the object was meant for destruction.
Let’s just say I decide to take something God has declared is “doomed for destruction.” What do you think will happen to me? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if I hold onto something God has warned me will be destroyed, that I might get hurt, too. Especially when God has offered the protective hedge of obedience for me to stay within. All I have to do is listen to what He says and follow His advice – don’t take what’s accursed.
Problem is, as we see in our text today, Achan had an idea all his own and so he decided to “take” what was accursed.
Before we all say, “Well, Achan got what was coming to him,” I’d like to make clear, I’ve had an ‘Achan’ heart more than once in my own life and I’ve asked myself, “Why, girl? Why this craving for the accursed? Why do I want what I don’t need?”
Author Doris Mortman really stimulated my thinking as I tried to answer the, “Why?” with her accurate observation, “Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” Like a spotlight focusing on some big announcement, I began to understand that once I truly embrace my position as a daughter of God and accept all the benefits and blessings that surround this heritage, then and only then, will the desire for more leave my greedy, little heart. Once I recognize “Whose” I am, I will understand “what” I have – everything! That’s right, everything I could ever hope for or need is found in the safety deposit box of my Father’s gracious loving-kindness and long-suffering mercy. As the missionary to Africa, David Livingstone so perfectly penned, “I will place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ.”
At a time when so many around us are fearful for their money, their possessions and their things, just remember who your Father is and the inheritance He has promised to His precious children.
I want to share a few verses of a poem by Lucy Larcom:
“I do not own an inch of land,
But all I see is mine,
The orchard and the moving fields,
The lawns and gardens fine.
The winds my tax collectors are,
They bring me tithes Divine.”
May we learn today from the chimp, to loosen our grip on the “accursed things” that hold us back from being all God wants us to be.
“We have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have, the more free.”
Loosen, My Grip
“O God, it is hard for me to let go,
and the squeeze I exert
garbles me and gnarls others.
So, loosen my grip a bit
on the good times,
on the moments of sunlight and star shine and joy,
that the thousand graces they scatter as they pass
may nurture growth in me
rather than turn to brittle memories.
Loosen my grip
on those grudges and grievances
I hold so closely,
that I may risk exposing myself
to the spirit of forgiving and forgiveness
that changes things and resurrects dreams and courage.
Loosen my grip
on my fears
that I may be released a little into humility
and into an acceptance of my humanity.
Loosen my grip
that I may experience the freedom of a fool
who knows that to believe
is to see kingdoms, find power, sense glory;
to reach out
is to know myself held;
to laugh at myself
is to be in on the joke of your grace;
to attend to each moment
is to hear the faint melody of eternity;
to dare love
is to smell the wild flowers of heaven.
Loosen my grip
on my ways and words,
on my fears and fretfulness
that letting go
into the depths of silence
and my own uncharted longings,
I may find myself held by you
and linked anew to all life
in this wild and wondrous world
you love so much,
so I may take to heart
that you have taken me to heart.”
Guerrillas of Grace
Prayers for the Battle