Don’t Relax After Victory!

One of my favorite movies (that I should not have seen) was The Devil’s Advocate with Al Pacino (the devil) and Keanu Reeves (the good guy). The scene that makes the movie (watch here) is at the very end after Reeves’ character chooses good over evil. Within minutes of this ‘victory’ comes the inevitable praise from a reporter who showers Reeves with flattery. As soon as Reeves turns his back, the reporter reveals himself as the devil in disguise (Pacino) and it is clear he is going on the attack again.


Gibeonite Deception

In my last post, I told you that we are going to discuss the Gibeonite deception from Joshua 9-10. Leading up to this story, you will remember that Joshua and the Israelites have just cleansed their camp of the sin that brought defeat.

Israelite Victory

Immediately after this cleansing, God gave them victory in their second attempt to conquer the city of Ai. They even built an altar to God and celebrated victory with burnt offerings. Finally, Joshua read aloud all the words of the law to the entire assembly of Israel. It appears they were in a good place in their relationship with God.

Israelites Tricked

When we pick up the story in Joshua 9:1, word has spread to the other kings in the area and they are preparing for battle. However, the Gibeonites come up with a ruse and trick the Israelites into thinking they are not local, but from a distant land. For this reason, Joshua and the Israelites agree to a peace treaty with them.

Within days, Joshua learns that the Gibeonites are in fact local to the area. He quickly realizes that he has violated God’s command not to make peace with those in the Promised Land. At the same time, he knows his word is his bond and he cannot break the oath he made. He is stuck with the Gibeonites and trouble is coming.

Lesson #1

As I told you in my last post, there are many lessons in this story for Christian business leaders. The first lesson we will discuss is this one.

Do not relax after victory. The enemy is coming.

Relaxed After Victory

You see, Joshua and the Israelites were just coming off of a great victory. They felt good about their relationship with God and they were relaxed. Unfortunately, this was a prime times for the enemy to attack. They were simply not expecting it.

The same is true for us in the business world (or in life in general). There are many times that we experience victory. It may be a hard-won contract for a huge account. It could be a heat-case with a customer is settled and a raving fan is created. Maybe it is something as simple as a relationship with a co-worker is mended.

Protection After Victory

The victory itself is not our focus. It is the moment after the victory that we must protect.

Sure, we can celebrate our victory. There is nothing at all wrong with that! In fact, it is really necessary to re-energize us for the next battle we will face.

No, the problem is not the celebration of victory. It is the lowering of the defenses that is the danger.

Remain Vigilant

We must get in the mindset that recognizes opportune moments for the enemy to attack us. It is during these moments that we must be on guard. We must protect ourselves from attack.

You may be thinking that this is unfair – that this mindset will not allow you to relax enough to celebrate. That is not true. Just be wise about the times immediately following a victory and don’t put yourself in a position to be caught off guard.

Rules For Protection

You need to think about your own set of rules for post victory protection, but I believe I have one example that would have served Joshua well. Consider the following personal rule for Joshua: Do not make any decisions immediately after a victory without first praying about it and sleeping on it for one night.

If that was all Joshua did to protect himself after victory, how do you think the results would have changed? Don’t you think God would have directed him to the right decision?


I challenge you to come up with some of your own rules. They really need to be closely related to your weaknesses. This is likely where the enemy will attack you. For Keanu Reeves’ character, his weakness was vanity and the devil went after him there. What is yours?

Do you know where you are vulnerable after victory?

What can you do to protect yourself from attack in this area?

Have you already experienced this issue and can share about it?

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  • When we take ownership and claim the victory for ourselves we are setting ourselves up for the downfall. Humility in victory means recognizing who granted us the victory and why? There are lessons to learn and grow by in victory or defeat. There will always be another challenger around the corner lurking and waiting for the right opportunity to defeat us. Humble feet always stay firmly planted on the ground. (Eph 6:10-20)

    • Coach, I agree. At the same time, It appears from the text that Joshua and the Israelites did give God credit for victory this time. They appeared to be humble and in a good place with God. Unfortunately, that was not enough to keep them “on ready” for the next attack.

      • Josh 9:24, the treaty they made with the Gibeonites came without counsel of God… The results are what happens when we get ahead of God, even when our outward appearances indicate otherwise.

  • Really like this take on Joshua’s mistake. I have studied this story before, and I really like Joshua’s example of owning up to his mistake. Not relaxing after a victory makes such great sense to me. I can think of a lot of examples where people fell after a victory because they were caught off guard.

    • I am one of them! Yes, I got a lot out of this story recently. Hopefully, there are more good lessons to come!

  • Gilbert

    Something I just went through was deceitful when the realtor we did business with knowingly deceived us into a binding contract. Had we waited just a bit longer, I imagine the deceit would have risen to the surface. Though it’s easy for us to think our way through a situation…God is all-knowing and will show us the way in due time. The best way I can describe Joshua’s mistake is that he embraced the victory instead of embracing the Victor…thus resulting in becoming a victim.

    • “…he embraced the victory instead of embracing the Victor…thus resulting in becoming a victim.”

      Great line, Gilbert! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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