Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Fruit of the Spirit – Day 13

Prudent or paranoid?

Bible text(s)

3Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.

4Obey the LORD, be humble, and you will get riches, honour, and a long life.

Proverbs 22:3-4GNBOpen in Bible reader

To get to the Promised Land, Israel had to cross the River Jordan while it was flooded (Joshua 3). God had promised that when the feet of the priests carrying the ark stepped into the water, it would roll back. Can you imagine their thoughts as they stood on the banks of the raging river? “Couldn’t we wait until the tide goes down? Why do I have to go first? What if the waters don’t roll back and I drown?”

Leading an entire nation into a river might not sound like the most prudent of plans, but these verses in Proverbs tell us that Joshua’s plan was the best one. That is what prudence is; it is being sensible and careful when you make judgements and decisions. If we are prudent and seek the Lord with humility, he will give us discernment, so that we do not go down a destructive path.

Any on-lookers would not have blamed the Israelites for being more than a little paranoid about crossing the Jordan. It is a short step from prudence to paranoia. Prudence wears a seatbelt; paranoia avoids cars altogether. Prudence prepares and plans; paranoia panics. Prudence calculates the risk and takes the plunge; paranoia never enters the water. The difference is humbly trusting God. Paranoia takes over when we rely on ourselves and then realise that we cannot possibly save ourselves. Joshua trusted God, he put his life and all the Israelite’s lives in God’s hands and he was richly rewarded.

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