Ensure Negative Consequences Are Firm

Moses is the person speaking to God in this passage. This episode happened shortly before his death. Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land due to a serious sin he committed. (See Numbers 20:2-13.)

Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: "O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon." But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: "Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see." —Deuteronomy 3:23-28

It is important to hold fast to decisions where you have applied negative consequences—especially when strong messages or principles are at stake. Moses had failed to follow God fully in one respect—striking the rock rather than speaking to it as He had commanded. God required complete obedience from Moses to relay the proper message to His people, so His punishment was severe and irrevocable.

Before his death, Moses reminded the people of his own situation and the effects of obedience and disobedience. (See Deuteronomy 4:1-40.) He was a credible source because he was suffering the effects of his own actions. People want equity in what happens to leaders and employees. If God had been lenient on Moses, His message would have been diluted—and worse, He would have shown more respect for Moses, which goes against His character. (See Acts 10:34.) God expects much from those who have been given much (Luke 12:48), and this should cause us to continually evaluate our motives and conduct.

Live It

  • Think carefully before applying negative consequences; don't make them so onerous you are tempted to change them in the future.
  • Realize the difference between changing your mind on a negative consequence and mitigating some of the negative implications of the consequence.
  • Allowing Moses to enter the Promised Land would have discounted the importance of being fully obedient.
  • Letting Moses see the Promised Land helped to mitigate the negative impact to some extent, yet continued to reinforce the importance of obedience.
  • More than fourteen hundred years later, God fulfilled Moses's dream by allowing him to return to Earth and enter the Promised Land to meet with Elijah and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. (See Matthew 17:1-3.)
  • Allow people to speak with you about the situation because it will enable you to reinforce your expectations and keep communications flowing to help repair any damaged relationships.
  • Resist the temptation to let appeals go on for too long and give false hopes of a change in your decision.
  • Reinforce your expectations (for example, Moses was to support the transition of leadership to Joshua) because it is easy for people to be distracted or disheartened while enduring negative consequences.

See It

During her first year, a talented new employee hired out of graduate school had met or exceeded all of her performance goals. Halfway through her second year, however, she began struggling. Her performance was slipping quickly, and it appeared her attitude was behind it. Her supervisor needed to take action, so a probationary period was established. The two agreed to the specific performance goals she needed to meet to successfully complete the probation.