How would you like to have a name that means “DOG”? Most Old Testament heroes had names with religious significance. So the name Caleb meant “dog.”
Caleb refused to let his name hinder him. When you think of Caleb, you don’t think of a dog. You think of a great man of God. So let’s look at three qualities that made Caleb what he was.
1. He Had a Great Faith
When the twelve spies went into Canaan they were greatly impressed with the fruitfulness of the land. But they were more impressed with the walled cities and the giants there. Ten of them came back to report on the size of those giants. They had a grasshopper complex. “We seem to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Numbers 13:33).
“There are giants in the land!” What a bugaboo to scare the fearful, faithless masses! The project to conquer Canaan immediately stopped. They could not see God for the giants.
But Caleb did not fear those giants, for he saw God. From a purely human standpoint Israel could not have driven out seven nations greater and mightier than they (Deuteronomy 7:1). But Caleb believed that God would make the difference. It was not the giants that kept Israel out of Canaan; it was their lack of faith (Hebrews 3:19)
Of those of Caleb’s generation, only those who had faith in God were permitted to enter Canaan. Lack of faith is still our greatest hindrance. Most of the battles of life are won or lost in our minds. As long as Peter believed that Jesus could enable him to walk on water, he did. When he began to doubt, he sank. “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew 9:29).
2. He Chose the Difficult
When Caleb came into Canaan, he chose the most difficult place to settle. The spies were particularly afraid of three giants at Hebron—Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai (Numbers 13:22). Caleb chose for himself the home of these great giants. “Give me this mountain,” he requested of Joshua (Joshua 14:12). He could have reasoned that because of his age and the many battles he had fought, he deserved an easy place to spend his last days. But he chose the most difficult of all!
People are cheating themselves by choosing the easy road! Students often want the easy teachers, easy courses, easy assignments. Church members seek an easy way to go to heaven. At the edge of the Red Sea, Israel murmured the language of defeat. “Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians” (Exodus 14:12).Many would rather serve the Egyptians all their lives than exert themselves and gain their freedom.
It’s a mark of greatness to attempt the difficult. Jesus challenges His followers to take the difficult road (Matthew 7:13-14). After telling the rich young ruler what he had to do for eternal life, Jesus challenged him with the words, “If you want to be perfect…” (Matthew 19:21). Will you answer the challenge of the difficult?
3. He Did His Part
It is one thing to believe with the mind. It is quite another to involve oneself in this belief. Caleb not only believed that God would assist him; he did his part. He went up and drove out those giants (Joshua 15:14).
God will not do for you what you can do for yourself. He gave Israel manna while they were in the wilderness. But the manna stopped when they entered Canaan where they could grow their own food. How often have our prayers and projects failed because we have not done our part!
Caleb’s faith included total commitment. His was not merely an academic belief! He staked his life on it.
Dare to tackle the difficult for God. Do your part . . . . whatever the cost!