After the battles to conquer the promised land had been fought and won, Joshua gathered the people of Israel together at Shechem and addressed them (Josh. 24:1-2). During his discourse to them he admonished, “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” (Josh. 24:15). Joshua could have worded it differently: “make a choice,” “make up your mind,” “ make a commitment,” “take a stand…” Whatever the expression, his point to them was simple. They had to “choose.”
While we are thousands of years removed from that time, and while we live in a completely different part of the world, we are still faced with the same message. We have to choose whether or not we will serve God. Most of us may have never bowed before a statue and worshipped it as a god, as had Israel’s neighbors and as had many of the Israelites themselves. Nevertheless, we struggle with our own idols. Some of the idols people serve today are drugs, alcohol, money, materialism, recreational pursuits, jobs, social prestige, power, a quest for success, and even relationships. Any, and all of these, can take a person’s first allegiance away from God. One can become so consumed with one of these concerns that it becomes an idol to him.
Ultimately, anything that draws a person away from God becomes a tool of the devil. The idols of Joshua’s day were not really gods. They were carvings of wood and metal and rock (Isa. 44:9-20). In serving them, the people were actually serving the devil. Whenever we place anything above God today, it is the devil we are actually serving. That may sound harsh, but the reality is that the devil will use any means to pull us away from absolute dedication to God. If we let something come between us and dedication to God, the devil is behind that choice, and in making that choice we serve his cause.
Many people want to put off making a decision. They don’t want to make a commitment just yet. They don’t want to take a stand today. They don’t want to make a choice right now. They want to wait until a time they feel is more convenient comes along. Sound familiar (Acts 24:24-25)?
But when it comes to serving God, there is no such thing as non-commitment. To not make a commitment to God is actually to make a commitment against Him. To not stand with God is to stand against Him. To put off making a decision to serve God is to decide to not serve Him. Jesus put it this way: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
It is time for you to realize that you are making a choice each day, whether you mean to or not and whether you realize it or not. You are actively choosing either to follow God, or you are choosing to follow the devil’s lead. There is no middle ground. Recognizing this reality, make up your mind today and choose God!
– Adapted from Gary L. Hutchens