Typically, you might see this scriptural verse adorning someone’s doorway at home, or as a plaque they keep in the kitchen or on their mantle in the living room. It’s a recognised verse of the Bible that many attribute to their belief in how they should live individually and as a family.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15, NKJV) were the concluding remarks given by Joshua, one of the two spies who encouraged the Israelites to proceed into Canaan, despite the giants that lived there, and who was appointed the Israelites’ new leader after Moses’s death.
It’s a bold proclamation made that many Christians even today seek to follow in their daily lives, but what should be realized is that a meaningful declaration made centuries ago can be lived out today as though it were just spoken yesterday.
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What is the Background of This Verse?
This verse comes as Joshua tells the Israelites about what God has done for them since the beginning: bringing Abraham into a new land and sending the Jewish people out of Egyptian bondage, through Moses and Aaron, to where they were presently—following Joshua to the God’s Promised Land.
Joshua had witnessed several shameful behaviours exhibited by the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness with Moses, from the creation of the Gold Calf to what he had seen prior to his statements from the Lord in Joshua 24. He pleads with his people to turn away from the gods their fathers worshipped while in Egypt and while travelling in the wilderness. (Josh. 24:14) His hope was to show them through his re-visited history about God’s love and provision in their lives and in their ancestors’ lives, that it was better to serve the Lord who took care of them than false gods who “demanded” unholy sacrifices but did little to help.
His concluding statements to the Israelites are for this day of his speech to mark who will be following God in service and who will continue the treacherous path of serving false gods, bolding claiming his family would be serving the Lord. (Josh. 24:15)
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Joshua Reminds the Israelites of God, Their Provider
The people choose the path of righteousness by telling Joshua they would serve the Lord and forsake their former gods, re-dedicating themselves to the covenant with the Lord. This prompts Joshua to call them all witnesses for their verbalised allegiance to the holy God. (Josh. 24:22)
So, we learn from this revolutionary speech that Joshua brought awareness to the Israelites, reminding them that all their provision and survival in the wilderness over the past several years was from a loving God who had done the same, generations before them, and would continue for generations to come.
We Can Pray to God Anywhere, Any Time
That declaration from Joshua and the Israelites centuries ago is still relevant today, as we examine and honestly assess whether we are living lives in service to God.
For the Israelites, the Law was what governed them the most: the proclamations made to Moses from God at Mount Sinai that brought forth the Ten Commandments, the Tabernacle, and laws appointing the proper attire and actions of the priests and demeanour of the people.
Through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we, as Christians, no longer need a holy priesthood to go to for interacting with the Lord, as we have direct access to God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Instead, we can go to God at anytime, anywhere, and share with Him our hearts’ desires, our pains, our questions, and our praises to the Lord who loves us. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
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Be Careful Not to Follow Gods of Comfort
Yet, just as Joshua admonished the Israelites for continuing to embrace their fathers’ gods, we are still at fault for following false gods who promise us comfort, understanding, and love (social media, other religions, careers, even our family and friends). Truth be told, several of us have chosen to go to others who know less about our situations than the Father who created the heavens and the earth.
“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. 6:24)
This speech from Joshua calls for us to be witnesses just as he calls the Israelites: that we have to not just speak these words so we “look” like Christians, but proclaim them boldly to ourselves that, from this day forth, our houses, our families, and ourselves will serve only the one, true Lord.
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What Does Living in Service to the Lord Look Like?
If we don’t want to endure the same hardships of the Israelites from years ago (forty years of travelling aimlessly), we need to take to heart what it means to have one’s home in service to the Lord.
Firstly, it does not mean that you only present yourself and your family as “surface” Christians, which means that you walk, talk, and interact as Christians but deep down live for oneself or in pledges to other gods/idols. Just because you are adorning the walls of your home with beloved scripture verses and end your statements with, “I’ll be praying for you,” doesn’t mean that your service to the Lord is true and evident.
Secondly, being in service to the Lord in your home doesn’t mean that you only serve the Lord when it is convenient for you or when you are in a period of blessings from God. God doesn’t listen to your prayers or intervene in your life when it’s convenient for Him or when He will receive benefits from you; God helps mankind because it is part of a greater plan that will benefit and grow us in faith and in love for Him.
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Pray Genuinely, from Your Heart
What does it mean, then, to live out this verse of “for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”?
It means being the Christian that Jesus describes in Matthew 6, not doing deeds or saying prayers with the goal for others to see and be proud of you. If you are in true pursuit of worshipping the Lord through service, Jesus says that you are performing a good service for the Lord and not others: “…do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others.” (Matt. 6:2)
When you pray, it is okay to pray with others and seek petitions from God for the things you need and/or the needs of others, however; the “hypocrites” Jesus depicts in the Scriptures are those who speak words in repetition to sound more scholarly and self-righteous, wanting more the applause of others than the appreciation of God. He advises, instead that, “when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:6)
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Serve the Lord out of Thankfulness
For those of us who are parents, making the choice to follow God’s decrees in raising your children and leading your household is standing firm on the belief that serving the Lord is important. Being “slow to anger” produces greater understanding (Prov. 14:29) while training our children in the Lord from the beginning will help them not depart from this path when they are adults. (Prov. 22:6)
The bottom line is that we, as Christians, need to know serving the Lord isn’t for the glorification from man for our “good deeds;” it is serving in thankfulness for all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do when we leave these earthly homes for an eternal one. It is also for the pleasure of serving Him and following His will, in that we can help others draw closer to God and make the choice to allow Him into their lives through the acceptance of Jesus.
You are the witness to this proclamation to serve the Lord, as Joshua said to the Israelites long ago, so make the choice to put your service to God before everything else and know He will be greatly pleased with His good and faithful servants!
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Have a great day Brothers and Sisters of the CJCN, The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you,
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.