By Caleb Faires
Have you ever stood up for something alone? When conscience and conviction run counter to the crowd, where do you stand? Loyalty is perhaps the most courageous of the virtues. It is not cowed or intimidated by numbers or peer pressure. It is the uncompromising stand for what is right, no matter the odds.
Caleb stood in a singular position among the men that spied out the land of Canaan. There were other men, like Joshua, Eleazar and Phineas, who also stood with Moses. Joshua had assisted Moses since his youth and, understandably, sided with his mentor (Numbers 11:28). Of the remaining spies, Caleb alone stood his ground. He stood against ten other men, reputable and respected, who had been called, just like him.
And what did he have to gain? The majority was against him, and they were right about the facts. There were indeed giants in the land. They had great, walled cities and were well-armed. This was a land of mighty warriors and iron chariots. How could a tired and nomadic people overtake such a well-entrenched foe?
But Caleb was not seeking popularity or an elevation of his own status. He was devoted to God, even if that meant standing against every other voice around him, even if it meant standing against what sounded like very reasonable arguments. Of course, the counsel of fear and despair is always easy to swallow. Loyalty, unlike cowardice, doesn’t care about the odds. Caleb, unlike the other spies, was not calculating the strength of the enemy. He cared only about the character and command of God.
This is true loyalty: that the law and wisdom of God define the hopes, aspirations, and plans of our lives. The call to loyalty comes in many forms in the Bible. We hear that call in the first and greatest commandment, the shema, found in Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” We hear the call to loyalty in the command that God repeated to Joshua, to keep the commandments and follow Him, not turning from the right or left, and successfully following God (Joshua 1:7).
This language is echoed in Numbers 14:24: “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it.” We hear this same call most simply in the words of Christ to His disciples: “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9).
This is the epitome of Caleb’s person, that “Joshua blessed Caleb… because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, completely” (Joshua 14:13–14). This is indeed a different spirit from the spirit of the world. It is not “a spirit of fear, but of one power, love, and sound judgment (2Timothy 1:7). It is not a spirit of disobedience, but of love for the law of God. It is not a spirit of doubt and unbelief, but of absolute trust in God and His word. It is this spirit of loyalty and devotion that defined the life of Caleb.