You’ve probably had conversations with people that left you feeling encouraged and empowered. You’ve likely had conversations that left you feeling the opposite, too.
Know what I mean? You spend a few minutes with someone whose focus is negative or fearful, and before long you feel the same way. You leave the discussion dejected and downcast, focused on the what-ifs and the worst case scenarios.
Deuteronomy 20:8 acknowledges that fear is easily spread, and this is not a good thing. Earlier in this passage, we learn that, prior to going to war, Israelite officers were to go to their troops and send home anyone who had recently built a house, planted a vineyard, or become engaged. Perhaps these men were more likely to be distracted than others and become a detriment on the battlefield (8:5-7). It was better for them to leave than to endanger their fellow soldiers.
But these guys weren’t the only ones sent home. The officers also asked their troops, “Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.”
Reminds me of the story of the 12 spies who returned after their fact-finding trip to the Promised Land. Of the 12, only Joshua and Caleb expressed the courage to march in and conquer what God had promised them. The remaining 10 spies focused on their fears, and their influence swayed the masses. The result? The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Fear is like a nasty virus. As parents, we can unintentionally share it with our kids. As spouses, we can share it with our partner. As leaders, we can share it with those we serve. We can actually discourage others from pursuing God’s plan for their lives. Not good.
Our role is to keep our focus on the Lord and to encourage others to do the same, just as the priests did with the troops in Deuteronomy 20:1-4—“For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!”
Let’s determine that our conversations and attitudes will inspire courage and dispel fear in the lives of those around us. What a great influence to have on others!