“And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.”
The children of Joseph came to Joshua complaining about not having enough land for their inheritance. They said in verse 14, “…Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people…” Their reasoning for needing more land is because they said they were a “great people.”
Joshua’s response to these people was the best response you could give to people who thought they were great. He said, “If thou be a great people, then get thee up…” Joshua didn’t let their pedigree impress him to give them more land; instead, he knew their words were empty if they couldn’t back up their claim of greatness. The only way they could prove their greatness was to conquer the land themselves. If they were as great as they said, they would be able to possess the land without Joshua having to give it to them. In this story are some great lessons everyone needs to learn and follow.
First, your pedigree doesn’t make you great. These people who proclaimed their greatness might have thought they were great because they were the children of Joseph. My friend, what you parents accomplished has nothing to do with your significance. Too many people think a name makes them great, but that name becomes an empty name if you don’t back it up with action. Just because your parents were used mightily by the LORD doesn’t mean you are a great person. Your actions are what will determine your greatness.
Second, the children are not great because of their parents. Be careful about holding children to the standard of their parents, or promoting them to a position because of their parents’ status. Many children have been given position without earning it to their detriment. Just because a great preacher’s child is a preacher doesn’t make them great. Just because an influential church member’s child is an adult doesn’t mean they should be granted position in the church. Believers must be careful about giving position to a young adult based on their parent’s accomplishments. No person is great because of what their parents have done. If they are great, it will be because of what they have done.
Third, empty words are filled with meaning by the actions of the individual. Joshua made it clear to the children of Joseph that the best way for them to prove their greatness was to go possess the land they wanted. The biggest favor you can do for any person is to make them earn their own name. Greatness is not inherited, it is earned. A last name doesn’t make a person great, but their accomplishments determine their greatness. Stop looking at individual’s through the spectacle of their parent’s accomplishment and let them prove their own worth. The best way I can put this is that you must let every individual be their own entity. Stop letting the last name influence what you think about them, but let their works be your determination of the person.
Putting undo pressure on a person because of what their parents have accomplished is wrong. Moreover, giving someone position based on their last name without earning it is setting them up for a fall. The rule to follow is to make everyone earn their own status in life. Names are empty without accomplishment. Let the accomplishment be the rule by which you measure every individual.