TO CHEW ON: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
When Joshua called for all the elders, judges, and officers of Israel to meet at Shechem, they probably knew it was a significant event. For they had been at Shechem before.
Shechem (in the valley between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim) was where, years earlier, Joshua had reread all the law and renewed the covenant with God after the second Battle of Ai (Joshua 8:30-35).
This time he reviewed the history of how God had worked in the nation from Abraham to the present. His message seems like a simple rousing pep talk until we read in verse 14: "Now... put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!"
Oh oh. It sounds like some of them were worshiping idols.
Joshua did a wise thing when he gave them a choice (Joshua 24:15). As Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
"It is essential that the service of God's people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle whence all acceptable service of God can spring. The Father seeks only such to worship him, as worship him in spirit and in truth" (Read all of Matthew Henry's commentary and more here.)Joshua was clear about his own decision. As far as he was concerned he and his family would serve the Lord.
The people seemed moved by his resolve, for they answered: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord...etc. etc."- Joshua 24:16-18.
By Joshua's response it seems he detected a note of glibness in their words. For he made it harder: "You cannot serve the Lord for He is a holy God...."(Joshua 24:19-20). In other words, You can't keep doing what you're doing (worshiping idols and God too) and think it's okay. God's holiness and jealousy demand your utmost separation to Him.
The people replied, perhaps more knowingly this time, "No, but we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:21).
I love how the resolve of this leader was contagious. Joshua can be our model in this. Though we are not leaders of a nation like he was, each of us is a leader to someone—our kids, our friends, our Bible study class, our garden club... Let's reaffirm our personal uncompromising loyalty to God, make it public, and live it out. We never know who will be influenced by our stand.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to recognize and get rid of any idols that would compete with my loyalty to You. No matter what others do, I want to make Joshua's declaration my own: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Amen.
MORE: "Leadership Versus Control"
Joshua is a good example of someone who influenced his people by his own example. Michael Hyatt writes:
"I often hear leaders, particularly younger ones, complaining about their lack of control in various situations. 'If only the sales department reported to me, I could consistently hit my budget,' they lament. Or, 'If the production department reported to me, I would not have run out of inventory!'
What they are really saying is, 'If I could control these people, I could guarantee the results.' The truth is that control is an illusion. You can’t control anyone, even the people that report to you.
However, while you can’t control anyone (except perhaps yourself), you can influence nearly everyone. This is the essence of true leadership. By this definition, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King were great leaders. They had control of virtually no one, yet their influence changed the course of history..." Read all of "Leadership Versus Control."
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.