I was reading this morning in the early chapters of Judges, and I was amazed anew at the mistakes made by the Tribes as they "conquered" the Promised Land. They, in fact, did not conquer it. Judges 1 describes how tribe after tribe headed into battle with great gusto, only to face obstacles or resistance or fatigue. One by one, they slowly stopped fighting and began coexist with their enemy. Rather than vanquishing those who opposed God, they made peace with them, occupying the same cities and even, sometimes, intermarrying with them. This was a tragic mistake. In the beginning of chapter 2, the Angel of the LORD comes to them and tells them that he will no longer go before them in battle, delivering them, because of their disobedience and efforts at "peaceful coexistence." And the rest of the book of Judges is the story of the result - continual pain and hardship.
Now, I wonder about me. How often do I get discouraged and quit before the job is done? How often do I try to make peace with those flaws in me that I need to overcome? How often does the first sign of resistance send me into retreat? I fear that it is far too often. If I am going to be the man God wants me to be, I cannot peacefully coexist with the sin in me.
But what gives me the strength to fight on? It is the promise of God's presence found in his Word. Or, in another word, grace. By the grace of God, I soldier on when I am tired. By the grace of God, I cling to his promises to me. By the grace of God, I keep my promises to him. If I am going to peacefully coexist with anything or anyone, I would rather it be with God than with those things that oppose him.