6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left,Joshua 23:6 ESV
11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.Joshua 23:11 ESV
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness.Joshua 24:14 ESV
The time has come for Joshua to say his good-byes. He addresses the leaders first and charges them to remain strong, a value he learned time and again throughout his years of leading the Israelites. He knows that living by faith is not answering a one time call, but is a daily decision that requires commitment and care. I love that he tells them to be very careful to love God. It is so easy to be careless about our faith. To follow God casually. To plod on relying on a long ago experience or decision to hold us, or rest in some arbitrary sense of goodness that gives us a leg up on our “competition.”
When Joshua then turns to the people, his message and delivery changes a bit, knowing he is speaking to a bit of a mixed crowd. However, the challenge to faithfulness remains. They had a choice to make. They even set up a little memorial, a stone, to confirm their commitment. Something physical to remind them in the future what they had spoken in that moment.
My faith takes careful handling. It is not a checklist or a one-time experience. It is not a facade or a group decision. I need to take these words to heart personally and daily. With sincerity and faithfulness. As they said repeatedly, I need to reaffirm my conviction, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” (24:24)
Lord God, I commit and recommit daily to follow you. Thank you for your years of faithfulness on my behalf. Your millennia of faithfulness to your people. Thank you for your word and the many memorial stones that literally and figuratively exist to remind me of my commitment and your love. Give me strength to obey and boldness to follow. I love you. In Jesus name, amen.