Choose Whom You Will Serve

When it comes to life, there are always many options. What will I have for breakfast? What shoes will I wear? When will I go to bed? Whom will I marry? Where will I work? These questions are ones we all must make, some questions obviously more important than others. The most important question for anyone to answer, however, is the one that Joshua asked the Israelites: “…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15, NIV).

The Israelites were a people who had just seen God deliver them into the Promised Land. The Lord gave them all of the land that he promised them, and he drove out all of the evil, idol-following nations who were there. They had seen God’s provision close-up, but they still had to answer the question, “Whom will you serve?”

The people answered that they would serve the Lord, just as Joshua and his family had. Joshua told them that the next step was to “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23, NLT).

Destroying idols may seem like a very “Old Testament” thing to do, but in reality we all have idols that we must destroy if we are truly going to be serving the Lord with our whole heart, mind, body, and soul.

Idols today don’t necessarily look like they did in Joshua’s day; we don’t often see or possess images carved into wood that we worship as gods. But we certainly, if we think about, have other things that we worship; our modern day idols.

One quick way to check on what you may be worshipping is to look at your “books.” Your appointment book and your checkbook. These two books show where you spend your time and your treasure. Those are often good indicators about what you are worshipping and focusing on. The priorities of your life are seen by the time and money you spend.

But beyond just seeing the idols of your time and treasure, it’s important to look beyond the surface and see what your true motives are. You need to look deeper into why you do what you do. Spending a lot of time at work shows that you value work and may be worshipping that idol, but what is the underlying spiritual condition? Are you looking for financial security? Power? Prestige? Wealth? What’s driving you to make work your idol? Until you can look at the root cause of your idolatry, you won’t fare well in trying to make a change.

Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the Kingdom of God. When we truly seek God’s Kingdom first, we will destroy the idols that are in our lives and put God’s will and way above our own. We will allow God to be our first priority – in all areas of our life – not just on Sunday morning.

I would encourage you to do a check of your books, and then pray for clarity about what your underlying idols are. Then seek out Scripture that speaks directly to the root causes, repent, and pray that God would free you from those sinful attitudes.

You cannot grow spiritually when you are not completely sold out to following Christ first. Jesus said that you can’t serve two masters; which master are you choosing to follow? Yourself or Jesus? Choose this day whom you will serve.

The Treasure

When I was in college, right after high school, I officially changed my major 4 times – in the first semester! I had felt that God was calling me into full time ministry, but I wasn’t ready to give up the benefits of living a life for myself.

I knew that living a life in ministry was going to require a certain amount of sacrifice on my part. I knew that riches were certainly not in my future, and things like an expensive new car, luxurious vacations, and a large mansion were not going to be in the cards. The problem was that I had a desire for all those things! I didn’t want to be stuck driving my old Ford Escort. I wanted to be able to travel the world. Yet I knew, deep down, that God was calling me to something more; something deeper and more meaningful than the luxuries of this world.

I know that these are first world problems. In some areas of the world, these things aren’t even dreams for people because they are so far out of reach. I recognize that, and am deeply fortunate. That didn’t change the reality for me, though, that I was giving up the life I had dreamed for myself in the quest of serving God with my whole heart. There are twin parables in Matthew 13 that address this shift in focus and the quest for what matters.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. Then he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

– Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

The men in these two parables found something of great worth – Jesus – the Kingdom of God. When they found it, they immediately recognized its worth and gave up all they had in order to acquire it. When I look at my own life, I did give up some of my material dreams for the future, but did I give up ALL that I had in order to follow Jesus?

I think about my day-to-day life and I wonder, am I giving up all that I have in order to serve Jesus in this very minute? Are my thoughts on things of God? Am I sharing my faith with others so that they might know Jesus? Or am I still living for myself?

This question is one that cannot be answered too quickly. It’s easy to say, well, I go to church, tithe, teach, preach, and serve others, so I must be OK, right? But just doing the right things doesn’t mean that I’m living my life sold out for Jesus. It doesn’t mean that I’m giving Jesus 100% of who I am. What parts of me am I holding back?

These parables should cause us all to pause and evaluate our lives and life choices. If our relationship with Jesus is supposed to be the most important thing in our lives, we need to check to make sure that is true. Are you willing to sacrifice ANYTHING for the sake of Jesus? If you can’t answer yes to that question, it’s important that you wrestle with God about that.

What is God calling you to give up or sacrifice for His sake? Are you willing? If not, why not? What has a hold on your life greater than your desire for the Kingdom of God?