Summary: 21st in Joshua series. This is about selflessness and putting others’ needs first.

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Joshua 19:49-50 – You Then Me

This is a true story, written by Emory Thomas Jr., and was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

Ernest “Bud” Miller was the president and chief executive officer of Arvida, which is a real-estate company. Mr. Miller closed regional offices, reorganized departments, and laid off half of his work force, which meant 1300 people lost their jobs. Now, I understand already this doesn’t make him sound like a popular guy. Let me explain. By doing this he turned a money-losing company into a money-making one. If the company had remained in the red, all the people would have been fired. By Mr. Miller’s downsizing, he saved 1300 jobs from being lost.

Anyway, despite all the cuts, Mr. Miller believed that one more thing had to go. So, he resigned. He gave up his job. This is what he said: “I couldn’t justify me to me. I couldn’t look at the people I let go and say that I applied a different standard to me. Every fiber of my person wanted to stay. But professionally this was the decision that had to be made.”

So, his resignation eliminated one of the 2 senior jobs at the company. The chief operating officer became the chief executive. Bud Miller, age 53, gave up an “upper six figure salary package” – that is, over ½ a million dollars a year salary, because he wanted what was best for the team. I’ll tell you, real integrity is seen when we do what is right even at our own expense.

Today I’d like to continue on in our series on Joshua, today in chapter 19. We have maybe 5 or 6 messages left in Joshua, and then we’ll begin something new for Christmas. You’ve been patient and attentive and even though we’ve been in Joshua on and off for about 5 months, I haven’t gotten too much hate mail over it. Let’s read 19:49-50.

So, let’s backtrack and review. Joshua, the replacement for Moses of the people of Israel, was made leader and commander of the armies. Slowly, they marched across the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the land God told the Israelites was theirs. Now, the dust has settled, and the 12 tribes have mostly claimed the land that was allotted to each of them. They didn’t drive out the foreign nations completely, and that would come back to haunt them. That’s the setting of the book of Judges, that the foreign armies continued to sting like hornets and pester the Israelites. Part of it was a judgement of God – His people didn’t obey Him, and so God didn’t give them victory. But part of it was common sense – if you don’t get rid of the enemies, they’ll keep coming back.

But the time came that the land was more or less conquered, and the division of the land was done. This tribe would be within these boundaries, this tribe would be here, and so on. Each tribe would be required to keep the enemies out of their own boundaries, and Joshua, the mighty warrior, would finally take a break, and would settle down.

The Lord had promised Joshua a place, and the Israelites thought this would be a good idea, too. So they told their leader that he could take any place he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah, a town 25 miles or so from Jerusalem, in the western hills of the land given to Ephraim.

Now, what’s important to notice here is that Joshua did not take his land until everyone else had gotten theirs first. He didn’t rush ahead to get the best part. He didn’t climb over people to make sure he got what he thought he deserved. No, Joshua waited until everyone else got God’s best for them, before he asked God for his share. Joshua was selfless.

You can find all kinds of people in the Bible who are good examples and bad examples of selflessness. For instance, there’s the story of Abram – Abraham – and his nephew Lot. They arrive in a new place, and Uncle Abe tells his nephew that he, Lot, can have any part of the new land. Well, Lot looks around and sees the best part, the most fertile, the lushest vegetation, and he wants it for himself. Abram gives it to him, but God sees this act of selflessness on Abe’s part, and gives him great land too. Actually, if you look at the story, Lot’s choice of land cost him his integrity, and it almost cost him his life. Abram’s unselfishness was rewarded, but Lot’s selfishness brought him pain.

David had an incident of selfishness, for sure. All because he wanted an attractive woman, he heaped up sins like adultery, greed, and murder one after another. His sin broke up 2 families, and it carried on in the lives of his children, who learned from Daddy to make sure you get what you want.

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