Author Ben Godwin

Ben Godwin, B.TH., began preaching at age thirteen and has been in full-time ministry since 1987. He presently serves as the pastor of the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church near Birmingham, Alabama, and produces a weekly television program called The Word Workshop. Ben and his wife, Michelle, work as a team in ministry. They have three children, Nathan, Emily, and Noah, and reside in Goodsprings, Alabama

Adopting the Spirit of Caleb

To be spiritually successful, it’s important to have the right spirit. If you’re looking for a Biblical hero to emulate, Caleb is an excellent choice. God gave him this glowing endorsement, “But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the [promised] land…” (Numbers 14:24). The Living Bible reads, “Caleb is a different kind of man.” Several times the Bible mentions how he “wholly followed the Lord.” Caleb was not only different from the Canaanites (the heathen); he was also different from most of the Israelites (God’s people). You see, we are not called to follow the crowd or even the crowd who calls themselves Christians; we are called to follow the One who is called the Christ.

Caleb was one of the twelve spies Moses sent to scout the Promised Land. A leader of the Tribe of Judah, his name means “bold” or “impetuous.” Someone who is impetuous has a tendency to act or attack. In other words, Caleb was a doer not just a talker. This trait made him a great asset to Joshua during Israel’s conquest of Canaan. Strangely, Caleb can also mean “dog” or “raging with canine madness.” Apparently he had a doglike tenacity that made him a ferocious fighter, something we all need to resist evil and fight the good fight of faith.

The spirit of Caleb looks forward not backward.

When the majority of the Israelites wanted to go backward to Egypt, Caleb wanted to go forward to Canaan. He said, “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us; a land which flows with milk and honey” (Numbers 14:8). Many people live in the past and, as a result, forfeit their future. One author noted, “The past should be a guidepost not a hitching post.” We can learn from the past, but we can’t live there. Neither can we change the past. No wonder Paul wrote, “…Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). You can’t drive a car very well staring in the rearview mirror. If you do, you will certainly run off the road and crash. We must look ahead. God has great things in store for us, but we must stop looking backward and, like Caleb, start looking forward.

The spirit of Caleb reacts with faith not fear.

Ten of the spies brought back a negative report fostered by fear. Only Joshua and Caleb gave a positive report fueled by faith. As preachers like to say, “Ten brought back gripes, only two brought back grapes!” Caleb saw grapes and promises; the other spies saw giants and problems. Caleb saw milk and honey; the others saw calories and cholesterol. Fear will paralyze you, but faith will energize you! Caleb boldly declared, “Let us go up at once, and possess [the land]; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Caleb focused on the opportunities while others focused on the opposition. Consequently, only Joshua and Caleb inherited the Promised Land of their generation. The doubters all died in the wilderness. Perched on the threshold of Canaan, God made Israel make a U-turn and wander for the next 40 years. If only they all had the spirit of Caleb and reacted with faith instead of fear. As one author aptly put it, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”

The spirit of Caleb is aggressive not passive.

At the ripe old age of 85, Caleb was still not ready to retire. You’d think he’d settle down in a corner of Canaan and tell war stories to his grandchildren. Not this fellow. He told Joshua, “Now therefore give me this mountain...if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out…” (Joshua 14:12). Joshua blessed him and granted Hebron as part of his inheritance. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Hebron was situated 19 miles southwest of what became Jerusalem. It was later designated as one of the cities of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and served as David’s capitol for the first seven years of his reign (2 Samuel 2:11). At 3,040 feet above sea level, Hebron was the highest town in Palestine.

Caleb was a man of altitude! He was not satisfied living in the low land, he wanted the high ground. He claimed and conquered a mountainous region inhabited by the Anakims, a clan of giants. Can you imagine this 85 year old man wielding his sword against three overgrown sons of Anak (Joshua 15:14) and running them off of their own property? Inspiring isn’t it? That’s what I call aggressive! Incidentally, Hebron means “alliance, league, or confederacy.” Why was Caleb so victorious? He was in alliance with God and His purpose for his life. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” We must all resist the “I’ve arrived” mentality. The spirit of Caleb is to keep learning, growing, reaching, pressing, and advancing. Paul, after 30 plus years in ministry, said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). Keep pressing on, child of God. Don’t allow yourself to become passive or complacent. The spirit of Caleb is expressed in bold, aggressive faith. We can’t afford be spiritually passive, because God rewards those who diligently seek Him. If we want to walk in God’s promises, we should adopt the spirit of Caleb—the courageous champion who proved, both literally and figuratively, that your attitude can help determine your altitude.