of the time we focus in on the last phrase, but do we really realize what the phrase Joshua so boldly proclaims really means. I see plaques for people to put in their houses with that statement (. . . as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.) on them, but I wonder if we realize what a tremendous statement Joshua was really making. Putting a decorative plaque on the wall doesn’t mean anything if there are no actions to support it.
Let’s look at that short section a bit closer and notice that Joshua was speaking for himself. It did not matter what any of the other people in the nation of Israel did he would follow God. So many times we think that if other people in the church are doing something it must be okay and we can follow them and their example. Let me remind you that we are not to be serving the elders, preacher, or some influential church member; we are serving the Lord (Galatians
1:10). Earlier in his life Joshua had already shown as one of 2 spies who brought back the good report and stood against not only 10 other spies, but hundreds of thousands of others. In fact Joshua and Caleb stood alone in their entire nation, and these were supposed to be God’s people. Sometimes even God’s people go wrong.
Let’s look a bit further and notice that Joshua was not only speaking for himself, he was speaking for his whole household, his wife, children, servants, grandchildren, and anyone else living under his authority. Whoa! Did you notice that last word? Joshua believed and boldly proclaimed that his wife would serve the Lord. Do you think he asked her before making such a statement? He said his children would serve the Lord. Didn’t he know that you can’t make teenagers do anything? How could he speak for these other people? Easy, he knew that as the father he was accountable before God for his family. He was responsible for their souls as well as his own, and God will never make someone responsible and accountable without giving them the authority to ensure that it can be done. Our country and even the church has shied away from God’s delegated authority to the fathers to be responsible and accountable for their families. Well, they have a mind of their own. Yes they do and it is our job to live, teach, have self-discipline, discipline, correct, admonish, instruct, train, and win their souls and minds for God. When I say as Joshua did "as for me AND MY HOUSE" I am reclaiming the God-given authority, responsibility, and accountability that I should have accepted all along. Let there be no doubt, the head of the house has the authority and will be held responsible by God regardless of their willingness to accept it.
Let’s look a bit deeper and notice that Joshua didn’t say, "we’ll try", he said, "we will". He did not have to say ‘Lord willing’ or ‘if we aren’t providentially hindered’ He knew what God’s will was and knew that the only hindrance would not be providential. We sometimes shy away from making statements like the one Joshua made because we think it sounds arrogant. I have heard Christians say so many times, "Well, I hope I’ll be faithful, but you can’t know for sure." I understand that none of us is incapable of falling (1 Corinthians 10:12), and that Peter was making those statements of bravado just before denying Christ. However, Joshua’s statement is not braggadocios like Peter’s. Joshua is stating a decision that he has made he asked them to choose and then told them what choice he had made. Understand that Joshua was not perfect, but he had decided what he was going to do. We sing the song "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" and that is the kind of statement that we must make. I may stumble along the way, but there is ‘no turning back, I’ll follow Him’. As Yoda told Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, "Do or do not, there is no try." To try is to accept failure and make an attempt to excuse it, and with the souls of our families at stake failure is not an option.
Let’s get all the way to the bottom and notice that Joshua said they would ‘serve the Lord’. Just believing in God was not enough for Joshua. Just staying away from the idol worship was not enough for Joshua. Just coming to church and sitting on the pew was not enough for Joshua. Just studying and learning God’s word was not enough for Joshua. Joshua had sold himself and his family heart, mind, body, and soul into slavery or service to the Lord God. That shouldn’t surprise us because that is what God demands and expects from each of us. God doesn’t have room for part-time workers, followers, children, soldiers, ambassadors, servants, etc. Jesus made it clear that in all 39 books of the Old Testament, over 700 pages in my Bible, hundreds of commands in thousands of verses the most important one was to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:5). My time, my money, my car, my house, my family, even my life all become his when we make the radical decision that we will be the Lord’s.
So next time you see or think of this verse ask yourself if you have made the decision Joshua did and examine your life to see how you are doing with carrying it out. It is not to be made lightly, there are many things that pull for our love and attention in this world, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.