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 NKJV)
Some may skip over the first part of this passage feeling that it doesn’t apply to them, and will love the last sentence, declaring it as a mantra, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
But God’s word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This passage is not as archaic as it seems.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord…
To whom would the Lord seem evil? Because of our short-sighted vision, and the fact that His ways are not our ways, we will sometimes feel that He is unjust in His decisions and actions. If we don’t trust that His intentions are good, then we might feel He is evil and not be willing to trust and serve Him.
This is especially true when we think that a “good” person in our estimation can go to hell, while a murderer can gain heaven if he repents. This appears to be an unfair, unjust system to those who want to “earn” heaven based on merit. (Ezekial 18:21-32) I once had an atheist tell me that he rejected the idea that God is Love if God kills babies. What seems unfair and unjust to us with our limited scope of vision may be perfectly understandable if we knew everything that God knows.
It seems evil to serve the Lord when we don’t want to give up our sin. We want to continue doing what we’re doing because we are still gaining rewards from it in the form of momentary pleasures. It makes no difference to us what the far-off repercussions of the sin are. As long as we want to continue doing whatever it is that we are doing, than we will not want to serve Him.
…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.
What we don’t understand is that by rejecting God, we will still serve someone. We were created to be servants and slaves to something. Either we will find freedom by serving God, or we will remain in chains and be slaves to something else. The choice is ours.
The gods that our father’s served refers to the problems of our past. We can live in the past and dwell on the negative parts. By doing that, we refuse to go forward, refuse to let go of our baggage. If child abuse is a stigma of our past, we might see ourselves as damaged goods. This plays havoc on our self image and our ability to see ourselves as worth anything.
Or if our past shined in comparison with our present, we will be bitter to what our lives have become. We will be pining for the past, grasping at shadows of memories. Often this person blames God for his misfortune, finding God to be an unfair steward of his present.
Either way we serve the past, and can’t see the future because we’re too busy looking backwards.
or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.
We move to the present, where you are living now. If you are serving the gods of the land you now dwell, then you would be a people pleaser. You would be running with the crowd. Doing as the majority does. Sometimes this includes going to church for the purpose of social event. Sometimes this is going golfing or watching football. Sometimes this is shopping and surfing the internet. Sometimes it’s drugs and alcohol. And sometimes it’s watching T.V. or overeating.
Whatever your present addiction is, if it’s controlling you and occupying your every thought, then it is your god and you are serving it. It is the god of the land you now dwell. The god of now. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but if it occupies more of your time than the time you spend with Jesus, then it is your lord.
Think about what you spend most of your time doing. What are you willing to spend most of your money on? If it’s not God, helping other, or your own spiritual growth, then whatever it is: you’ve become a servant to it. So what will you serve?
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord
Be honest with yourself if you want to post this as a plaque on your wall. Is it true? Do you serve Him? Have you given up your past to Him? Do you spend most of your day in His service?
You will find no more loving Master. God wants all of you, all your time, all your money, all your commitments. If you are not giving Him your all, then you are not serving Him. This is not as difficult a burden as it sounds. God is the GIVER of good things. He is not the TAKER.
When you give Him your time, suddenly you will find you have more of it. When you give Him your money, you will find you need less. When you give Him your commitments, you will find the help that you so desperately need. He is your Helper, your Supporter, your Strength. Without Him you can do nothing except worry, complain, and find emptiness in the parts of your life you haven’t given to Him.
Giving Him your all does not mean that you need to find a monastery or nunnery to join. It does not mean that you should live on the street and give all your money to the poor. It could mean this, but it doesn’t have to. If you will place every decision in His hands, that is giving it to Him. Honestly talk to Him about where to spend your money, your time, and your energy. If someone asks you for help, take it to the Lord before you say yes or no.
Do you trust Him? Or do you find it evil to serve the Lord? You will serve somebody, so who’s it going to be?