The Gain in Giving Up
Day: 24 | Plan: Joshua-Judges
Today’s Reading: Joshua 24
Joshua 24:24 (NIV) “And the people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.’”
Every January I make personal resolutions—commitments to lose weight, pray more and gossip less. I want to be faithful. I intend to stick it out. I really do. But my best intentions can rarely support long-term commitment. By February 1—okay, by January 15—I’ve usually fallen back into old patterns. My New Year commitments abandoned.
My spiritual life is much the same. A Sunday morning sermon provokes a desire to change, persevere or grow in an area, but Monday morning habits hamper my progress. Do you know that struggle? Where our promises don’t match our perseverance. Where our faith rarely matches our follow-through. Why is that?
This may not be your struggle. But it is mine, and it was Israel’s. In Joshua 24 we see the people of Israel once again recommitting themselves to the Lord, also known as renewing the covenant. This had happened multiple times just since the Exodus. Through His chosen leader, Moses or Joshua, God called the people to reaffirm their devotion to Him.
Before we go further, let’s consider the overwhelming grace of God. Our perfect, holy God allows a feeble, faithless people the opportunity to recommit themselves to Him! God not only initiates the covenant but also invites them to return to Him. He chooses to enter into a sacred agreement with Israel, and He calls them to begin again when they violate that agreement. Truly amazing!
But back to Israel. They had failed before, but now it was a new day for them. It might not have been January 1st, but they were getting an opportunity for a fresh start. If you read the whole chapter, God’s call comes with a command. To walk with God, they would have to walk away from other gods.
To turn toward God would mean turning away from something else. This is always true. And I think this may help me understand why I often fail to follow through on my promises. I want God, but I don’t want to give up other things. I want obedience, but not necessarily sacrifice. I want to be faithful, but I also want to be comfortable.
Comfort is not God’s invitation to Israel or to you and to me. His invitation is to turn toward Him, but it is a call to turn away from idols. The idols that often receive our worship, our time, our money, our best efforts. Perhaps this is the key to turning our promises into perseverance, our faith into follow-through. We have to give up things in order to gain God.
We could choose to focus on what God asks us to give up. Or we can choose to focus on what, or rather Who, we gain. It’s our choice.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your grace astonishes me. I am so grateful that You invite me to begin again when I fail. I am also grateful that through Your Word, You instruct me how to turn toward You and away from those things that distract me and defeat me. Help me return to You quickly and often when I forget that Your Word brings life and in Your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Joshua 24 closes with the death of Joshua, recording that he was “the servant of the... Read More
Download the First 5 app to get the full experience