“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14
The Lord calls His people to a total commitment—whatever the cost and whatever the outcome.
He is God and I am His servant. That means that my role in life is to do whatever He says.
I find it helpful to define the other gods as what the surrounding culture calls “great.” There are many idols, and you can choose the one the best fits your needs. Choose what’s most comfortable. If one god doesn’t come through for you, just turn to another one.
The commitment that Joshua calls the people to make is to one God. They’re to be committed exclusively to Him and to no other, whatever happens, whatever the cost, whether He comes through for you or not. That’s what commitment is.
Look at the alternatives
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, choose for yourselves this day who you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
Face the challenge. You cannot be a Christian on your own terms. God sets the terms. Joshua says, “If this exclusive commitment to the living God seems unattractive, take a long, hard look at where the alternatives will lead you. Perhaps you’d like to go back to not knowing God and not belonging to Him. Is that what you want?”
If you don’t follow the Lord wholeheartedly, what will your life consist of? A little bit of money? A little bit of sex? A few friends? A lot of laughs? A shelf filled with trophies? All these things have a place, but are any or all of these things what you were made for?
No. You were made for something bigger than this. When Jesus calls us to count the cost, we have to count both sides of the ledger. You have to count the cost of following, but you also have to count the cost of staying behind, which is to be outside of His grace and His promises, and identified with those who will go down when He comes in glory.
Make a decision
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Joshua draws a line in the sand, “I’m making a personal commitment to serve God—whatever the cost, whatever the circumstances and whatever the consequences. That’s how it is for me.” Then he adds something else, “This is how it’s going to be for my family.”
He’s affirming, not just a personal commitment, but also a family value. Clearly Joshua cannot make a choice to serve God for his children, but he can say that within his sphere of influence, the driving vision and the abiding commitment will be to serve the Lord.
Some of us are drowning in activities because we’ve never really sorted out what we’re trying to do. Is your objective to raise your family in the knowledge of the Lord? If it is, then you need to make the commitments that will move your family in that direction—a commitment to worship, a commitment to serve, a commitment to time at home and a commitment to pray. Is what you are doing going to achieve the objective?
Throw away your idols
“We too will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:18
They built the tabernacle. They’re God’s people, “Joshua, you’re preaching to the choir. Of course we’re going to serve the Lord.” But when Joshua calls for a decision, he’s looking for something deeper than verbal agreement.
“He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins” (24:19). What does Joshua mean? He goes on, “Throw away the foreign gods that are [present tense] among you” (24:23). The people say they’ll serve the Lord, but they’ve never parted with their idols! They wanted all the blessings of God’s covenant and they wanted to keep their options open. Joshua says, “That won’t work. Your commitment has to be more than words.”
Simply saying, “I’ll serve the Lord,” won’t save you. You have to throw out your idols. If you won’t throw out the idols, don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re forgiven. That’s why the Bible says, “Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). God has never promised to forgive a sin that you will not forsake.
This LifeKey based on the message “Divided Commitment,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, September 29, 2002, from the series “Faith With Questions: Dealing With the Darkness of Doubt.”
Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.