“And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.’ So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.’” Joshua 10:6-8
I am struck here by the honor of Joshua. The men of Gibeon had deceived the Israelites into making a covenant of peace with them. So while Israel had sworn to them by the Lord that they would not harm them, it may have been very tempting to allow the other kings to defeat them. To simply say, “It serves them right.”
But Joshua and the men of Israel don’t get caught up in the fact that they were manipulated into this alliance. They don’t base their faithfulness to the covenant on the prior actions of Gibeon, and they don’t search for a way out of it. No, they respond immediately to this plea for help, and God shows His faithfulness to Israel by assuring Joshua that He is with them and will give them victory.
This unquestioning act of integrity contrasts greatly with the society around us. A society in which everyone seems to look out for themselves first and foremost, pursuing what they believe will make them happy and determinedly fighting to maintain their rights at whatever cost.
Someone could argue that if a person deceives them into a promise, while they may see some obligation to fulfill it, they certainly shouldn’t be expected to go beyond the exact letter of that promise. And if there’s a way for them to get out of it, they may believe it’s their right to do so.
I’m not going to get into specific details of ways in which we should honor our commitments, or whether or not there are exceptions. My focus is drawn more toward the state of our heart and how we view our commitments themselves. Do we value honor and integrity highly enough that we will seek to live our lives as an example of these characteristics, even if it will be uncomfortable and inconvenient for us? Even if it messes up some of our plans? Do we trust God enough to believe that He will pour out grace and will honor our desire to hold to our promises, even if we didn’t consult Him about making them in the first place? Or are we more concerned with how the details affect us and the fact that this manipulation has injured our pride?
Galatians 6:9-10 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Paul also writes in Romans 12:10,17, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Our actions of good, of honor, of love, of kindness, of mercy, of peace, of faithfulness, are dependent not on the actions of others, but on the trust we place in our Lord. Our Lord who gave His life for sinners who had done nothing to deserve mercy or grace. Our Lord who is faithful to us even when we are faithless. Our Lord whose Word holds true, regardless of what we have done.
So let us hold fast to what is good. Let us pursue righteousness and honor. Let us determine to act and speak with integrity, whether or not others do the same. The light of God is meant to shine through us—the light of His love, the light of His grace, the light of His faithfulness and all the beautiful characteristics that are seen in our Lord. He delights in us. Let us delight in honoring Him.