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Monday, April 29, 2019

Parasitic Relationships

As we roll into Joshua 9 we find the Israelites in an encounter with travelers supposedly from a distant land begging for friendship. As we continue to read we discover the truth is these travelers are really from a neighboring city, but they've put together this grand ruse of packing dry moldy bread and putting on worn out clothes so it looks like they've been traveling a long way when in reality they are the neighbors. Scripture tells us that the Israelites sampled their supplies but didn't seek the Lord's will, and instead of seeing these travelers for what they are, they are taken in. They had all the right answers, they knew the right phrases to earn their trust and so the Israelites swear a treaty with them despite the fact the Lord told them to drive all the people in the land of Canaan out.

As we look back on chapter 8 the Israelites have just won a major victory, the chapter ended with Joshua holding his javelin out, and the victory is the Lord's, He gives them the city and they follow all of His directions. Joshua's erecting an altar to the Lord and reads the laws of Moses to all the people and yet as we make our way through this chapter I'm struck by verse 14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. What happened between the chapters? Joshua was so in tune, so tight with God so why did he not stop and seek God in this decision also? Isn't it interesting, that at our high point, when everything has been going great, in the wake of a victory that our focus can shift? It's while we are riding out the high of the victory that we can stumble. And then the Israelites discover who these travelers really are... How often the people in our life, the people we thought we knew reveal their true colors and leave us reeling in confusion and disappointment.

The Gibeonites had heard about Joshua's victories, Like Rahab they'd heard that the Lord had promised them this land, they'd seen city after city fall, instead of going to war with their neighbor's against Joshua they want to join him, but secretly unlike Rahab. They didn't want to serve God, they didn't want to be a part of what He was doing because they loved Him they just wanted what they could get out of it. They decided they wanted in on the action, they wanted to be part of that crowd and the protection it promised, they wanted to live off of the coattails of what God was doing. Everyone has heard of the Israelites and their God, maybe they wanted a little of that fame. Instead of coming honestly, they set out to trick and manipulate the Israelites and their God, but instead of coming to God the Israelite's simply blundered in blindly making decisions. God saw through the deception, He could have told them if they'd only asked.

How many of us have has some friendships like this? You thought they were real, but it turned out it was all an act. You thought they wanted to be your friend, to be apart of what God was doing but it turned out they wanted what they could get out of the relationship and so they became like a parasite feeding off of you, sapping the time and energy and resources out of you. Jealous of your attention, and demanding of you until you were so busy trying to satisfy their ravishing appetite that your ministry, your calling, your relationship with God begins to suffer for it and it became a burden you just couldn't get out from under.

I can't help but think of Rahab's heartfelt plea in chapter 2 verse 12-13 “swear to me by the Lord that you will spare the lives of my family and those who belong to me because I have shown kindness to you," such a different approach. Relationships built on lies and manipulations will never be successful, they will only lead to exhaustion and disappointment.

We have to be careful who we let into our inner circle, who we allow in the position to hold our arms up, who we let into our war room to see our plans and our dreams and speak into our lives. We have to guard what God is doing so people can't come in and drown the fire because they feel threatened by what He is doing. We have to guard our friendships so that the people who just want the fame of what God is doing, they want to be known for hanging out where God is moving but they don't want to actually be involved don't sap away our strength and become a dead weight that we are dragging around.

We find in Joshua the perfect example of a parasitic relationship, as the Gibeonites are faced with battle they immediately call for Joshua to come and save them. Gibeon is an important city in the area and all of its men were good fighters but they still make him bring his army and fight their battle. In fact, they sound like whining children manipulating to get their way in verse 6 begging for Joshua's time, energy and resources.

We need friends who will tell us the truth in love, that will hold our arms up when they won't get anything out of it, who will see what God is doing and encourage our hearts, who will be an ally when the battle does come and will fight it with us and storm heaven's gates on our behalf. We need the kind of friends that are the same in the dark as they are when the spotlight is on. We need to seek the Lord in every friendship, every relationship. We need relationships that are a tandem pull toward the Lord, not us dragging them with us.



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