I am an only child and am thankful that I’m the only one – I don’t know how those of you with siblings do it! Most of my friends have brothers and sisters and I’ve seen some intense sibling rivalries over the years. I’ve witnessed children feeling overlooked by their parents because the other siblings needed more attention. I’ve been a sideline viewer for the comparison that naturally (though often unintentionally) comes with being one of many siblings.
Can you imagine what it would’ve been like to be a sibling of one of the heroes of faith?
Recently we talked about Caleb, an amazing man, who dared to take God at his word no matter how impossible the situation seemed. But did you know that Caleb had a younger brother?
We meet Othniel in Judges 3. The nation of Israel disobeyed God again and they were sold into slavery again. Then the people finally cried out to God, begging him to deliver them. And guess who God chose? Othniel!
But can you imagine what it would’ve been like to be Caleb’s younger brother? Caleb was a great man and a leader of the nation of Israel and God even said he had obeyed fully! Talk about a temptation to compare! It would’ve been easy for Othniel to compare himself to his big brother and his larger-than-life faith. If ever Othniel messed up, he would’ve had plenty of ammunition to berate himself with.
Othniel didn’t let his family history, the fame of his sibling, or the disobedience of the nation of Israel distract him from his personal obedience. He was ready, the Spirit of the Lord was on him, and he did the job he was created to do. He was the deliverer of Israel and, because of his actions, the land had rest for 40 years!
Obedience has a far greater impact than we realize at the time. Caleb’s obedience led to Israel’s deliverance at the hand of his younger brother. Othniel’s obedience to God’s voice, though he had a number of reasons to doubt or turn away, led to countless lives being saved.
Responding to God’s word in faith rarely makes sense at the time. Sometimes we get the privilege to understand it in hindsight and other times, we won’t be able to understand on this side of eternity. But our understanding isn’t the most important thing. If we were supposed to understand everything, it wouldn’t be called “faith”.
What comparisons are you currently making? Who are you sizing yourself up with, causing you to doubt or waver in your obedience? I encourage you to free yourself from the trap of comparison – that’s never the place God wants you to be. You might have an incredibly impressive sibling or mother or neighbor or best friend, but that doesn’t matter. God cares about your obedience and faith.
Let’s choose to leave our family histories and our personal pasts behind (whether good or bad) and take that next obedient step of faith today!
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