“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day who ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, o the gods of the Amorites, whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
This verse emphasizes the power of decisive choice. We have more ability to determine the course of our own lives than we sometimes imagine. We are not the hapless victims of circumstance, or the helpless products of our environment. We are people made in the image of God and called of God to follow him.
With the call God has given the ability to respond to the call. True to His respect of individual freedom, god has not coerced a response. He has simply enabled one a response. He has allowed us to choose Him without forcing us to do that which is against our will.
Because of that freedom of decision God has given us, we can change the direction of our lives. We need not moan and lament a way of life which is unpleasant to us. We need not watch in envy as others are highly motivated and do all sorts of satisfying things. God has placed in us the power to choose our directions.
There are lesser choices that can be made. As Israel could, and sometimes did, choose the pagan gods of Canaan, so we can choose to be materialistic, greedy, covetous, or otherwise limited. We can, however, if we choose, be free children of God.
We must also remember that the Word of God tells us that God is a jealous God. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20: 4,5). He requires a clear, unqualified commitment. No man can serve two masters. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). In Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The saying is found almost the same word for word immediately after the parable of the unjust steward. Jesus is telling us that His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, the other he would hate. To the interests of one he would adhere, the interests of other he would neglect. The supreme affections can be fixed on only one object. So, says Jesus, the servant of God cannot at the same time obey him and be avaricious, or seek treasures supremely on earth. One interferes with the other, and one or the other will be and must be, surrendered . Let me show you something here. The word “Mammon” is a Syriac word, a name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. It has the same meaning as Plutus among the Greeks. It is not known that the Jews ever formally worshipped this idol, but they used the word to denote wealth. The meaning is, ye cannot serve the true god, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world. One will interfere with the other.
This matter of true allegiance is not based on our perfect performance, but on our acknowledgment that He is our one hope. We must not see any other god as the center of our lives.
Perhaps the most vital lesson of all in this text is that we can renew the covenant with God after a fall. This is a great source of hope to troubled people.