Evil of Serving the Lord
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
This verse is inscribed in a stained glass window in our kitchen. It is an excellent choice for any family’s purpose and expressed desire in life – if, indeed, they really mean to strive for this. Joshua’s challenge to the people of Israel, whom he had led in conquering the land promised to them by the Lord, was phrased in a way you might find strange. This is what Joshua says: “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve.” Do you think any of them considered it evil to serve the true and living God? Do you think it is evil to serve the Lord?
It is truly worthwhile to consider just what Joshua means. After all, I would rather think “evil is not the word they themselves would choose, as he had, to describe their dilemma in choosing who to serve. You see, they were torn between serving the God who had saved them out of Egypt, delivered them from 40 years in wilderness-living and struggle, and then gave them victory over many stronger enemies who inhabited the “Promised Land,” over the traditional gods of the past they had experienced in Egypt and those of the strangers they met along the way while wandering 40 years; and then the gods they discovered among the people in their new homeland, as an addition or substitute for the God who had always been at their side. Most likely they erroneously thought they could follow all of these gods and practices, along with the God of Israel.
Joshua observed all this and knew what was ahead for them if they persisted in this equivocation. Experience had shown that not only was this not possible for a healthy outcome, but the knowledge and pursuit of the true God would actually falter and wane, and these false gods would predominate more and more in the people’s lives and hearts. It always happens when you equivocate between the true, living, and jealous God and, on the other hand, the many false gods who really are nothing more than unthinking, non-conversant, non-living gods of metal, stone, or wood, made by the very ones who then bow down and worship them – the height of stupidity!
Most of us do not worship gods that man has himself carved, unless you are Buddhist, Hindu, or the like, but we do worship gods we have made ourselves, such as certain traditions, or the trappings of a materialist society, or the behavior and lifestyle which make us appear acceptable and “cool” within the society in which we crave popularity. When the Scriptures say, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord…” what it is saying is, “If it is, in your inner mind, too troublesome, irritating, unpopular, inconvenient, or glaring to serve the Lord, then you must make an immediate choice! Either serve the Lord wholeheartedly, without reservation, committing all unto Him, or do not; serve the gods of this world instead! Joshua says he has made his own choice regardless: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
Evil arises when professing outwardly that you serve the Lord, but in reality, you are sniffing at such service and find it not as worthy a pursuit as other lifestyles of your world, succumbing to the snares of materialism or worldliness, seeking the world’s acceptance and popularity over taking a public stand for the Lord, His righteousness, His truth, and those things that manifest godliness. Are you a true foot soldier for the Lord and His kingdom, or for yourself and your own interests? This is Joshua’s purpose in Joshua 24; he is very concerned in pointing out the evil of sitting on the fence, trying to live in two basic mindsets, one which follows the Lord and one which involves itself in the folly of the world with its false gods and ideas. Choose this day whom you will serve, says Joshua. Now is the time for making this choice!
It is a choice which must be made sooner, not later. Procrastination only takes you deeper under the power of Satan and the world. You come to the place where extrication is well-nigh impossible. You have convinced yourself that following the Lord wholeheartedly is far too radical and painful, when in reality it is the very best route to go. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light; this is quite the reverse of what Satan suggests strongly to you, that it is the worst possible and most painful choice you could make.
It is a matter of who is more trustworthy, who has the best credentials for following whole-heartedly. Your faith must rise and be recognized. It must put Satan to flight and cling to the One who proved His love at Mt. Calvary, holding fast to the One who shattered death’s power and sting, the One who now and forever lives for you. Such faith chooses to follow Joshua’s example: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
“Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne, it shall be thy royal throne.”
(5th verse of Frances Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” 1874)
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