After 400 years in Egyptian captivity, the Israelites were finally on the edge of the Promised Land. While camping in the wilderness of Paran, God charged Moses with sending out 12 spies into their soon-to-be home that flowed with milk and honey. One representative from each tribe gathered around Moses for a briefing on their mission. As Moses concluded his instructions for the spies, he said, “Be of good courage” (Numbers 13:20, NKJV). But after 40 days of exploring the land God had promised to them, ten of the twelve somehow lost sight of the most critical part of Moses’ message: Whatever you see there, no matter how intimidating it may seem, be strong and take courage.
The unbelieving spies launched into a pessimistic PowerPoint presentation while the crowd munched on juicy Canaanite grapes. “This is way out of our league,” they said. “Sure, the place is amazing, a sight to behold, fertile, and abundant, but…” I can imagine the low hum of the listeners increase in decibels as the fake news sunk in.
Caleb, realizing what was happening, jumped up to silence the crowd. “We can do this!” he shouted. “Let’s get going now and claim what is ours.”
But the others weren’t quite finished with their version of the story. “Never in a million years could we take on these people! They all do CrossFit. We’ll be eaten alive.”
That was enough to get the people wailing and complaining to Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! (Numbers 14:2, NKJV). Or if only Gideon’s valiant army of 300 had been alive back then.
God gave them what they wished for—death in the wilderness. Their unbelief was enough to seal their fate. Only a couple people beyond their teen years would see the land that they had been wandering toward, simply because they fell for the propaganda of negative leaders.
We don’t have to be casualties of our own negativity or leave a string of victims in our gloomy path. If you want to practice the power of positivity, try these three steps:
Due to the cosmic conflict raging around us, we have to fight to develop and maintain a positive mindset. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV).
The moment you sense negativity on the rise, recognize that your mind is caught in the crossfire of the great controversy, and reject the thought. Use the weapons you have at your disposal to take that negativity hostage. That leads us to the next step.
Some people won’t leave home without a pocket knife. But as we struggle to be positive, one weapon to keep close at hand is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17, NKJV). Replace your negative thoughts with what is true, lovely, commendable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Turn to the Scriptures to inform your way of thinking. Claim a promise to counteract negative thoughts.
Besides replacing your choice of words, change your tone of voice. It may seem insignificant, but it does affect those around you. “A defective tone of voice, an ungraceful manner, or any other defect, will surely be reproduced in others” (The Review and Herald, October 28, 1890).
Praise is a form of preventive medicine, like taking a contrast bath before you notice any cold symptoms. Even when you aren’t bombarded by negativity, celebrating God’s goodness can keep unfavorable thoughts at bay. Follow the example of the David, who said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1, NKJV).
Had those 10 spies put a halt to their negative mindset, which swept through the camp like the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, thousands upon thousands of lives would’ve been spared. But the Bible is full of examples of those whose positivity in leadership impacts our faith to this day. “Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life” (Hebrews 11:32-35, ESV).
That “cloud of witnesses” has yet to receive what was promised to them (Hebrews 12:1). However, they didn’t wallow in pessimism to the point of losing all hope. Instead, they kept on working for God’s kingdom and held on to the positive truth that He would one day “[bring] them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:30, ESV). Their testimony can be ours. So be of good courage.
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