I often have to both teach my kids and remember for myself this simple life rule: I can’t dictate, change, or control the behaviors of others, only of myself. I cannot blame someone else for my mistakes, nor can I base my behavior on their actions or worldviews. This comes up in today’s text as Joshua and the Israelite face off with the deceptive Gibeonites.
Joshua and company could have decided that because the Gibeonites deceived them, they weren’t bound by their oath and were free to kill them. However, they knew that their oath was their own and regardless of the Gibeonites behavior, they were bound. And so they found another solution – make the Gibeonites their slaves, fulfilling their vow not to kill them but also making them pay for their deception.
The real problem, however, wasn’t that they made a rash vow. It was that they made a vow without consulting the Lord. We all have tricky decision to make and paths to choose in life, and if we choose without prayer and wise Godly counsel, we will almost always choose poorly. And when we choose poorly, no matter that all the evidence points to the fact that these visitors are from far off, we will have consequences that have nothing to do with others’ deception.
So before you make any major decisions, whether about a life choice, a theological position, or a personal request, take the time to consult God and Godly people first. Though you may be seen as less than decisive because of your slow process, you will choose correctly only if you choose the way of God.