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“But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, ‘There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.’ So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.”—Joshua 7:1–5 (NLT, emphasis added)
“Actions have consequences.” This is a lesson I have tried to instill in my children since they were babies. The better grasp they have on it, the better prepared they are to make good decisions as they age. Every choice, every decision, every action has a ripple. Some choices have small ripples that don’t barely make a wave; others can cause a tidal wave. And the thing about tidal waves is they tend to destroy everything in their wake and affect a lot of people.
In today’s verse, we see this very principle at play. God gave the people of Israel very clear instructions. As we saw a few days ago, God declared, “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel” (Joshua 6:18 NLT). But Achan didn’t follow directions—he stole some of the dedicated things, the things that were supposed to go into His treasury. He made a choice, he acted, and his actions most certainly had consequences.
It’s likely he thought that no one would notice. He probably believed no harm would come from his decision. He most certainly never considered that others would be hurt because of his little, seemingly unimportant choice to disobey the Lord . . . but he was wrong.
Achan’s disobedience did get noticed, his sinfulness was detected. You see, nothing we do, not a single action or thought escapes the view of the Lord. Our secret sins really aren’t all that secret, friends. He saw Achan’s decision to take from what was to be sacred and set apart for the Lord. And because of Achan’s decision, the army of Israel was soundly defeated by an outmatched opponent, and people lost their lives.
I imagine that’s how most of us feel when we make the decision to disobey the Lord. I often make choices in a vacuum with nary a thought about how this one simple, little decision could impact my life or the lives of others around me. But that’s the thing about sin . . . it’s never without consequences. It leaves devastation in its wake. Sin always destroys.
Friends, I pray that, as we enter situations, as we are presented with choices big and small each and every day, that we would prayerfully weigh out and consider our actions. Before you disobey the Lord, consider the cost. I promise you it will always have hidden fees that we’re always unprepared to pay.
DIG: Consider the various stories in Scripture where someone’s sin has impacted others in a significantly negative way. Consider stories like David and Bathsheba.
DISCOVER: How have you seen this principle at work in your life or the life of someone you know?
DO: Seek His wisdom daily as you go about your day and all the potential decisions that may have to be made and actions that may have to be taken. Spend time in prayer every morning that He would guide you in righteous paths.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.