#217: What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Shakespeare was right. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Not only do we get caught up in the web of deceit but so do innocent bystanders.

Web Deceive

In this month’s, Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known we’ll examine the story of a man named Achan (Joshua7).

The Backstory

Moses had just transferred responsibility for leading the people of Israel over to Joshua. The Lord commanded Joshua to circumcise all the people, renewing His covenant to take them into the Promised Land if they would only obey Him.

The first city in the Promised Land they were to conquer was the city of Jericho. The Lord commanded the people of Israel saying all the silver, gold, articles of bronze and iron were to be brought to the Lord’s treasury, and everything else in the entire city itself was devoted to destruction.

The Deception

When the Israelites advanced on Jericho, Achan helped himself to a cloak, 200 shekels of silver, and a gold bar weighing 50 shekels and hid them in his tent.

Achan thought he got away with stealing the things that were to be given to the Lord’s treasury, but God knew what Achan had done. He may have deceived everyone else, but he hadn’t deceived God.

The Repercussions

Achan’s stupid mistake had repercussions far beyond his own decision to steal from God.

The very next battle Joshua sent the Israelites into they were driven back and 36 men died because God was not with them.

When Joshua cried out to God, he learned that someone had violated the covenant to obey God already by stealing things devoted to the Lord’s treasury. The people were brought before the Lord to be judged, and the judgment fell against Achan.

Achan finally admitted his deception saying he did it because the cloak was beautiful and he coveted the silver and gold.

Achan, his family, and all his animals were stoned to death as punishment, and they were all burned along with everything else he owned.

The Lessons

There are four important leadership lessons we learn from Achan’s story of disobedience and deceit.

1) Temptation to Sin. Even in the midst of victory, we can be tempted to sin. In Achan’s case, he valued the treasures of man more than he valued obedience to God.

2) Sin Impacts Others. We think our decisions have no consequences or perhaps only affect us but most often others are also affected. Achan’s sin cost the lives of fellow Israelites in battle and the lives of his family.

3) Sin Brings Defeat. Achan knew what was right, but he deliberately disobeyed. His disobedience cause the army to be defeated, it brought disgrace to God, and Joshua, their commander, was disheartened.

4) Sin Cannot Be Hidden. Regardless of how well we might hide our sin from man, nothing is hidden from God. He knows our every sin. Achan managed to steal the cloak, the silver, and the gold and get it all the way back to his tent. Then he hid it in his tent thinking he had gotten away with his theft. But nothing is hidden from God.

As leaders, we are susceptible to the very same kind of temptations as Achan. We are tempted to sin; valuing man’s treasure over God even when we are winning. We deceive ourselves thinking our actions affect no one else. Ultimately, our sin against God brings judgment because no sin against God remains hidden.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of the four leadership lessons from Achan’s story resonates most with you? Which do you think is most common in the business world today?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Todd H. says:

    “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:38

    “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” – Luke 12:2

  • Kelsey Hager says:

    For me personally, I always think that remembering that your sin impacts others is one of the best lessons that you can take with you in your life. For some reason I think that many of us believe that when we sin we are strong enough to face the consequences alone or that we are able to make it right with God later, but when we take time to think about how our sin is affecting other people we are much less likely to sin. None of us want to be the person who is at fault for hurting others and it is true, sins never solely just affect the individual. Although it is important to think of others’ feelings, it is kind of sad to notice that we are much less likely to sin when we think of hurting humans on this Earth but seem to not care as much if we are just hurting ourselves and God. In accordance to a previous post, we must be reminded of God’s power and presence even though it is not a physical one.

    • Ron says:

      I agree with you – if we thought about how our sin would affect others we just might turn away from the temptation a bit more often!

  • Kaki Hall says:

    Great post! My dad always told me “what you do in the dark will be seen in the light”. I think this relates to lesson #4 (Sin Cannot be Hidden from God). A lot of people in the world will make bad decisions and hide it from others such as family members, friends, coworkers, bosses, significant others etc… However, it is a good reminder that God sees everything no matter what. It is important to keep this in mind when in a difficult situation. God will be with you wherever you go. The good news is that God is forgiving God and even if you make a bad decision, there is redemption!

  • Ashley Osborne says:

    Temptation is something everyone struggles with in every day life. Number 2 stood out most to me in this story. Often times we sin for our own selfish reasons and don’t realize how many other people it will affect. This story is very eye opening to that and shows just how bad the consequences can be for going against God’s word. After reading this post, I think of the saying that everything on this earth is temporary, but God is eternal. We shouldn’t sacrifice ourselves for our own selfish purposes, which are often just temporary fixes. Instead, focusing on God and His plan for our lives will be eternal fixes to whatever we are going through.

    • Ron says:

      Ashley –
      Well said, we should focus on the eternal but the Great Deceiver is always at our door trying to get us to focus on the here and now.

  • Gaye Austin says:

    From my lesson sheet that I will be using for tonight’s lesson on 1cor 10: “A trial is an adversity allowed by God to transform our character. A temptation is a solicitation to evil which NEVER originates with God” [ James1:13]

  • Elisa Gomez says:

    I think Shakespeare nailed it right on the head when he says, “What a tangle web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Even it is a little white lie, one lie leads to another lie, and a person becomes caught in this big mess of lies that they cannot find their way out of. Whether people believe it or not, their lies will always eventually catch up to them. Although man can be blind to another man’s lies, God sees all things and there do exist consequences. I agree that it is so important to understand how one’s actions can impact the lives of others as well. Whenever I am faced with a difficult situation, I think and consider those who may be impacted by my decisions or actions. As Christians, we must seek truth and life. We are called to model a Christlike attitude and serve others. By refraining from sin and dishonesty, we can establish long-lasting relationships with our employees, coworkers, and customers and the more obedient we are to God and his commands, the more we will be blessed.

    • Ron says:

      So true – one lie tends to lead to another and pretty soon there are too many lies to keep track of them all. Lincoln once said, “no man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” I found this to be true in the business world when people would spin a tale and pretty soon they would forget the details of their story. The truth is always easier to remember.

  • John says:

    Even when we think our transgressions are invisible, they remain in our psyche. They fester there. Long before they hurt the ones we love, they have already injured us. And no doubt, disappointed God. Deception may fetch a temporary profit, but over time the debt is far too costly.

  • I think it’s so important to remember that our decisions, both good and bad can impact others. It’s especially critical to realize that if we do sin, we are not the only ones to face consequences. For example, even simply lying to someone can both affect you and negatively impact the person you lied to in a lot of ways. So, when we are faced with decisions to make, if we remember not only will we face consequences for sinning, people we love and care about also may face repercussions

    • Ron says:

      The worst part of our sin is how often it affects the people we care for the most! An unintended consequence but a consequence nonetheless.

  • I think this is really relevant because we are tempted by sin all the time. Even in college, there are temptations to cheat on certain assignments or try to take the easy way out of things. God sees all of this, and we cannot hide anything from Him. Often, these sins will effect other people as well. I can imagine that the temptations keep coming as we get into our careers and into leadership positions. We need to keep our integrity and cling to God when faced with temptations.

    • Ron says:

      Megan, I know it’s hard to believe but you’re right, students at Christian colleges cheat. I had a seminary professor who admitted that he had caught someone cheating nearly every semester. That’s a sad, sad commentary on us and our testimony.

  • Tasha DeWitt says:

    The two points that resonated with me the most were 2 and 4. When we sin, it has effects on other people! Sometimes we don’t realize that when we’re being selfish it can lead to hurting others (emotionally and physically!). #4 has been prevalent in my life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over and over again, it’s that THE TRUTH ALWAYS COMES OUT. No matter what. Eventually. Someone will find out, it is just a matter of when. That being said, I always try to be honest and make sure I admit when I’m at fault. I think we’ve all learned from past leaders too that it’s best to admit when you’ve made a mistake and not deny it because it will backfire (*cough* Bill Clinton).

    • Ron says:

      Shakespeare was right again in the Merchant of Venice when he said, “the truth will out.” The truth almost always comes to light and it is always harder to deal with at that point. Even if it doesn’t come out, we know, and more importantly, God knows.