Numbers 14:24 – “My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly.”
Over the past few years I have come to understand in a deep and personal way something of what it takes to follow the vision of God in one’s life. I have also come to realise that it is not the outside things that are most important but the deep realities of my inner life and spirit. It is this, above all, that will determine whether and in what way and extent I will serve the call of God upon my life.
I have often been struck very forcefully by these words which are God’s judgment on his servant Caleb. What if one verse were left on record that summed up our character and the nature of our work and service. Caleb stands head and shoulders above others of whom God spoke briefly and pertinently. He, of course, was the man who stood with Joshua in his positive report of the Promised Land while all other spies reacted in fear. He was the one who walked boldly through the desert certain of the promises of God. It was Caleb who entered the land with Joshua until he came to the place of the promise which he claimed from God. He was a man of a different spirit.
I know that this is precisely what God is looking for amongst us men of today. God wants us to be men who will display a constancy and strength of spirit. Men who will follow the way of God despite what others are or do.If we are to be men of a different spirit I believe that there are a number of vital attributes that God wants to develop within us.
First, is the need for a humility of spirit. This does not mean a false attitude of self-effacement. It is the result of a profound brokenness which results from a real spiritual experience and understanding of exactly who God is. Isaiah tells us that God lives with those who are “contrite and lowly in spirit.” We all want to know the way of power today. We sometimes fail to realise that there is no going up without first going down.
Second, it is a commitment of spirit. Caleb followed the Lord with all his heart because he had shared in the great vision of God’s purpose for His people. He brought them out to bring them in! When we see the vision of God for our lives it develops a sense of call, a passion of heart and a deep sense of commitment to what God has called us to.
Third, is a discipline of spirit. Inward discipline is surely one of the great lacks in the contemporary Christian scene! Integrity of life, ordering of spiritual priorities, management of time, control of thoughts, habits, speech. Surely we all recognise the need of God’s help in areas like these.
We could go on and on. It seems right to stress the need for a spirit of encouragement both for our own lives and for others around us. David knew how to “encourage himself in the Lord’. And he was reminded forcibly on one occasion by Joab of the need to encourage the men that followed him(2 Samuel 19:1 – 6). Of course, we can only bring the power of spiritual encouragement if, like Paul, we ourselves have been mightily encouraged by God.
“My son, give me your heart”, says the Lord. Only with the response of the Psalmist of Psalm 51 will we ever come close to becoming men of a different spirit.