Life is full of choices, some made for us and others made by us. And while we can’t always decide what happens to us, we can always choose how we react to what happens. Someone once said that life is 5% what happens and 95% how we respond to what happens. I concur.
Joshua was at the end of his life, and having led God’s people in the conquest of the Promised Land, he affirmed before his people the choice he had made to serve God in sincerity and truth. You might have the words of his choice prominently displayed on a plaque in your home. In all likelihood you probably even have them memorized:
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15b).
Think about the magnitude of this great choice! In just one pithy statement, Joshua crystallized the essence of one submitting himself to the will of God. Let’s consider the depth of this timeless affirmation of General Joshua.
As for Me
The choice Joshua made was demonstrably personal. Those who follow God—truly follow God—are those who choose to follow Him of their own volition. Like Paul, they say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The aged Joshua made a personal choice that affirmed the decision he had made as a youth years before. The aging leader of Israel was simply reiterating the faith he had exhibited years before as the youthful spy of Kadesh. Moreover, he announced his personal choice. Only as we publicize our commitments to others do we invite the necessary accountability to keep those choices. And it is quite clear that his choice was adamant. He did not await the crowd’s decision or check the current worship trends. With individual resolve Joshua displayed a contentment to live in the minority if need be.
And My House
We must all stand before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ one day. We will give an account of our lives to Him who purchased them with His own blood. Pulpits should therefore stress the truth of and need for personal accountability. Not only are we responsible for ourselves, but also we are responsible for those over whom God has given us authority (e.g., our families).
The choice that Joshua made was a parental choice. Obviously, Joshua understood his liability as a family leader. Every mother and father will stand accountable to God one day for what He has entrusted to them. Simply stated: If I own it, I’m liable for it! Shovel the snow off the sidewalk if you don’t want to be sued; and lead your family to serve the Lord if you don’t want to answer to the contrary before God one day.
Our generation must experience a resurgence of godly leadership in the home, leadership that will chart the non-negotiable course of following God. When parents take the helm and steer their children in the ways of God, disciplining them when they drift, they are exhibiting a genuine love for their families. Love makes the hard choices. Love is willing to be misunderstood in the short term. Love sees serving God as the indispensable choice of life.
We Will Serve the Lord
Joshua’s choice was a purposeful choice. It is a choice that says, “This is what we’re going to do. We reject any other option.” Too many of our choices have escape clauses. People have no trouble saying, “I will serve God,” but they do have trouble making that statement in an unqualified way. Often it sounds like this: “I will serve God, but.” Or, “I will serve God unless.” Or, “I will serve God until.” Purposefully we must vow, “I will serve God. Period.” Serving God purposefully is the sensible choice. The verses in chapter 24 preceding Joshua’s choice enumerate the incredible ways by which God had blessed the people since He called them to the Promised Land.
Nor should our service be merely external. No, Joshua insisted that we serve Him in sincerity and truth (v. 14). No room exists for hypocrisy; we must serve God with a pure heart. And don’t forget the action verb serve! Ours is not to be a sedentary life; it is to be a serving life. To serve God is to acknowledge His authority as our Master and the privilege we have to interact with Him.
Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve
Lastly, we must each remember that serving God is a pressing choice. It must not be procrastinated. It cannot be avoided. It will not be dismissed. This day is the only day I have, the only day God promises me. I must reaffirm in it the sober choice to serve Him. Now, you choose.