Let’s Be Serious!
Joshua 24:16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. 26 Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 Joshua said to all the people, “See, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, if you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away to their inheritances.
Joshua was concerned that the Israelites would not remain faithful to God. I find this whole passage quite troubling. In verse 16 the people respond to Joshua, acting almost astonished that he would suggest that they might not be faithful to God. “Who us?” “Does Joshua really think that we would serve other gods?” They said all the right things — “God…brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Yes — those were the right things, but Joshua knew that their words didn’t match their actions!
In verse 23 he has to point out to them that they have foreign gods among them. They are already an unfaithful people!
But they insist they will do the right things, and a stone is put up to remind them of this covenant between the people and God. But were they serious? The foreign gods were still in their homes and when Joshua and the elders passed away they forgot to serve God.
It’s easy to say the right things in an emotional moment. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
We are in an amazing worship service with the presence of the Lord and we we say, “yes,” I’ll commit myself to serve God faithfully.
Or, we are at the funeral of a relative who has meant a great deal to us. They’ve been faithful, serving the Lord, and praying for years! In the emotion of the moment we say “yes,” “I’ll follow in their footsteps and serve God.”
But let’s be serious! Do we really mean it, or are we just like the Israelites, saying one thing while harboring foreign gods in our homes?
To be truly serious followers of Christ, action must back up our words. They should have brought out the foreign gods and destroyed them in front of the entire company. The people of God needed to be accountable to take actions that would lead them to a place of faithfulness, rather than simply saying what a dearly loved leader wanted to hear on his deathbed.
Serious followers of Christ are needed today.
More than lip-service is needed.
Lord, please help me to live in the power of your Holy Spirit that enables us to live transformed lives. Amen.