The Devil's Handtool

An old story told of the devil once advertising his tools for sale at public auction. When the buyers assembled, there was one odd shaped tool labeled “Not for Sale”. 

When asked to explain why this particular tool was not for sale, the devil answered, “I can spare my other

tools, but I can’t spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I’ve ever had. It’s called discouragement and with it I can work my way into hearts that are otherwise inaccessible.
When I get the tool of discouragement into a man’s life, the soil is open for me to plant anything there that I may choose.”

The devil uses discouragement quite well.

Discouragement is Personal

You have experienced the emotional scraping of personal frustration.

  • Disappointment about a job you did not get.
  • Anger at some unfairness visited on you.
  • The exhaustion of chronic illness with no end in sight.
  • Unrequited love.
  • Unrealized expectations perhaps based on unrealistic expectations.

Allow it and discouragement will be a huge influence in your life. Discouragement can result in a fighter becoming a quitter.

Many Places to Quit

Some say, "I've served God for 30 years and never found a place to turn around." The statement is a clear declaration of faith, but does not tell the whole story. They had some places to turn around, they just chose not to. 

At times, it seems there is more to be discouraged about than by which to be encouraged.

  • News headlines are pessimistic than we would like for them to be.
  • America's Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates.
  • Brutal war rages in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  • The moral compass has been abandoned for immoral chaos.
  • The social culture is not improving. 

The pressure is on and the devil is employing his favorite tool, the tool of discouragement.

You can encouraged and defeat discouragement. 

 #1 Source of Discouragement - People

People can be discouraging limiters. Deuteronomy is a book largely devoted to a restatement of past events. It begins with Israel at Kadesh-Barnea from whence twelve Israelites departed to "search out the land, and bring word by what way the Israelites were to go up, and into what cities they would come" (Deuteronomy 1:22).

Ten of the twelve spies returned with a report that discouraged the heart of the people, (Deuteronomy 1:28). The ten spies focused on huge giants and cities with walls reaching to heaven. The spies discouraging report broke the soil for the devil. He then planted bitterness, griping, rebellion, and fear.

Side-stepping Faith

When Israel arrived at Kadesh-Barnea Moses instructed,

. . . God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it . . .
fear not, neither be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 1:21)

The statement is a call to action. There is the land God said He would give us, let's go take possession. No further discussion needed.

But, further discussion happened.

The people had experienced miracles of deliverance and provision. Surely they knew Jehovah's capabilities. But, they suggested to Moses, "We will send men before us, and they will search out the land . . ." It seems the suggestion sidestepped exhibiting faith in God's promise. Perhaps not, for the suggestion pleased Moses.

The twelve left the camp with a single mission. Search out the land and find the path by which Israel would enter, (Deuteronomy 1:22).

Ten of the spies returned sharing a report that far exceeded the mission they'd been given. Instead of returning with a way to enter Canaan, these ten returned with a reason to worry.

Without considering the rest of the story, there are lessons to apply.


One of my most oft-sold books asks the question, "If Everybody Here Were Just Like Me . . . (What Kind of Church Would this Church Be)?" It addresses some of the issues regarding encouragement and discouragement. If you've not read the book - give it a try. Satisfaction is always guaranteed. Print  Kindle reader/app


Preventing Discouragement

  1. Make sure God's word and promise are the first things you consider, "What has God said?"
  2. When you have arrived at the place and time to act don't deliberate further. Such added deliberation gives a discourager time to put up caution signs
  3. Pay little attention to those who have exceeded their mission. Some never find a way forward, they find reasons to not go forward.
  4. Enter into some awesome goals for God. One corporate trainer talked of the need for a BHAG, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Exiting Egypt's bondage was a relief and delight, possessing Canaan was a BHAG. And God was ready.

Discouragement results in fear. Satan loves fear, because it is the opposite of faith. Human fear keeps God from doing even greater things. Discouragement leads to fear, and fear results in paralysis. There is no forward movement. Was not this the case for Israel for the next thirty-eight years?

When discouragement prevails it results in becoming a stagnant pool. The late columnist Ann Landers listed Seven Steps to Stagnation in a column. These may help you push back against discouragement and the accompanying stagnation caused by what people say or do.  

    1. I’ve never done it that way. No Israelite had ever lived in Canaan land. How exciting the idea is of doing what has never been done.
    2. I'm not ready for that yet. In not now, when? What are you doing to get ready for it?
    3. I'm doing ok without it. Really? Where is meaningful progress happening?
    4. I tried it once and it didn't work. This phrase written on the figurative tombstone of people who never claim the promises of God.
    5. It costs too much. Does it cost too much money? too much effort? too much personal growth? too much risk? too much . . .?
    6. That’s not my responsibility. Is it then, everybody's responsibility? If so, that makes it my responsibility?
    7. It won’t work. Try something else. Don't do nothing. Possess the land.

    I can do nothing about anyone other people, but I can do what I can to keep pressing forward in my personal relationship with Christ. There is territory He wants each of us to possess.

    Now, I'm interested in how you overcome discouragement, the devil's favorite tool. Share with us how you deal with people who tend to discourage. 

    Defeating Discouragement - to be continued . . .

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