Go up and Possess It
Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.
One of the paradoxes of the Christian life is that God’s gifts often require labor on our part. God brought the Israelites to the Promised Land and told them He was going to “give” it to them (Num. 13:2). The gift of the Promised Land sounded great to the Israelites until they realized that, with the gift, came battles against giants and fortified cities! Perhaps they assumed God was going to obliterate the inhabitants of the land before they entered. Ideally for the Israelites, they could then have entered a vacant land with houses and cities already built and ready to inhabit.
Instead, God said they would have to fight for it. They would not have to fight in their own strength, however; God would be present to fight for them. God would bring down the walls of cities, give them strategies to defeat their enemies, and empower their warriors to fight. The Israelites would have a divine advantage over anyone they fought, but they would still have to fight.
It would be wonderful if, when we become Christians, God would fill our minds with a complete knowledge of the Bible and with Bible verses already memorized. It would be easy if God would instill in us a delight in spending hours in prayer each day and a fearless desire to share our faith with others. But God doesn’t relate to us that way. Instead, He gives us the free gift of His salvation and then tells us to “work out” our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12b). Are you discouraged because the Christian life is more difficult and challenging than you expected? Don’t be. God’s gifts to you are perfect because, through them, God makes you perfect as well (Matt. 5:48; James 1:17).