“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
After many years in the wilderness and seven years in the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, God’s people had a choice to make. It was time to get in or get out, to put a stake in the ground once and for all. Which god / God would they serve? Would they serve the one true God or would they serve other gods? Joshua presented them with the choice:
“Now fear the Lord and serve Him will all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”
The people knew the correct answer:
“Far be it from us to forsake the Lord and serve other gods!” (Joshua 24:16).
They knew why it was the correct answer:
“It was the Lord our God Himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from the land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us the entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled” (Joshua 24:17-18).
But Joshua knew they weren’t giving an honest answer. He challenged them and presented the decision to them four times. It was a defining moment, and Joshua wasn’t going to let the people commit to following God without truly owning what they were saying. They still worshipped other gods, and those gods had to go.
The same choice was presented by Jesus to His followers, and us, in Luke 9:23. To all who say they want to follow Him, Jesus said:
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Those are weighty words, ones that should present a defining moment for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. In this one sentence we’re presented with three characteristics of a true Christ follower:
- They deny themselves.
- They take up their cross daily.
- They follow Jesus.
In other words:
- True followers of Jesus live for God. One of the most prevalent gods — most definitely my greatest struggle — is living for the god of self, doing what I want, when I want, how I want. On some level we all struggle with seeking the life and goals we want, even speaking the words and righting the wrongs the way we want. We are born self-centered and we must daily battle the god of self.
- True followers of Jesus live empowered by God. People who seek to live for Jesus must do so by being led by and empowered by God’s Spirit. This truth, and the gift that it is, completely enraptured the apostle Paul. In Galatians 2:20 he stated: “I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Jesus Christ now lives in me.” When we choose not to live for ourselves, we open ourselves to the power of Christ in us. We no longer have to strive to perform for God. We can come into relationship with Jesus and be led and equipped by His life in us.
- We seek to live on this earth just like Jesus did.
These are the basics of the Christian life. They’re what we signed up for. Almost daily I have to remind myself: I am not my own; I’ve been bought with a price. I must — AND I CAN! — honor God with my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It’s a miraculous possibility, one modeled for us by Jesus. This is the life Jesus referred to in John 10:10: “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full.” He fully understood, shared with us, and showed us how to have the abundant life:
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Luke 9:24 NLT).
This is the LIFE you were created for, and it always — ALWAYS — begins with a choice. But don’t do it lightly. Using the words of Joshua, ask God to reveal if, how and why serving Him, living only for Him, seems undesirable to you.
After you have wrestled and worked through this weighty decision with Him, I pray you will say wholeheartedly, as Joshua did:
“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
It’s Way #50 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:
Choose once and for all to serve God alone.