“You are the possessor of a great and wonderful power,” wrote J. Martin Kohe.
“This power,” penned Kohe, “when properly applied, will bring confidence instead of timidity, calmness instead of confusion, poise instead of restlessness, and peace of mind instead of heartache.”
And what is this great power?
It is the power to choose.
In a very familiar verse to Bible students, Joshua, the leader of Israel, calls on the nation to rightly exercise this power when he offered this stirring challenge.
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.”
Here are three important lessons learned from this passage.
#1 Serving God is a personal choice.
Not everything in life is a choice. We don’t choose who our parents are. Where we are born. The circumstances of our upbringing. Our natural physical features. Even, our name was given to us by someone else.
However, there is a point in life, when we make the most important choice in life anyone can ever make. To either serve God or reject Him. No one can make this choice for us. It’s personal. Individual. And special.
It’s really a “yes,” or “no” decision. There’s no middle ground. I’ve studied with people who tried to offer a non-decision. “Maybe, later,” they say. “Sometime.” Or Felix as told Paul, “when I have a convenient time.” However, as William James observed, “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”
#2 If you don’t choose to serve Jehovah God, you will serve some god.
In Israel’s case, they may have chosen to serve the Egyptian gods from their days of slavery, or the Canaanite gods around them. In our day, it may be the gods of pleasure, power, position, possessions, or prestige. These gods are often bought and secured by the god of material wealth.
In His famous mountain message, Jesus offered this warning, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6;244).
Paul Earnhart expressed it well, “There is no such thing as a little covetousness. The love of things suffers no rivals and God will ultimately be forced out…Materialism has a voracious appetite and will soon consume the personality which gives it an opening.”
John R. W. Stott wrote that we should see this choice for what it is–“ a choice between Creator and creature, between the glorious personal God and a miserable thing, called money, between worship and idolatry – it seems inconceivable that anyone could make the wrong choice.” Yet, many people have, and still do.
#3 Your choice can affect your family and even generations to come.
Joshua was a leader. Not only for the nation of Israel but for his household. He confidently affirmed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The choice made by fathers and mothers influence and impact the attitudes, and actions of their children. They send a signal, even to small children, regarding our beliefs. Our values. Our priorities. And the depth of our faith.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”(Eph. 6:4). This command may be one of the most consequential in all of the Bible. Because it shapes the direction in which our children will go in life. And possibly their very destiny.
Parents need to stop and give serious consideration to their choices of entertainment. Their words. Their treatment of each other. Their stewardship. Their discipleship. Their church attendance. Their prayer life. Not just for their own spiritual welfare, but for the way they’re influencing their children. Remember little eyes are watching. And little ears are hearing.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words,” opined Eleanor Roosevelt. “It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
Indeed, as Andy Andrews expressed it, “First we make a choice. Then our choices make us.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman