We have now come to the last chapter in the book of Joshua, the servant of Moses and his successor, who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua is 110 years old and close to death as he reviews for the people all that the LORD has done for them and then gives them his final instructions in Joshua, chapter 24.
Now therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14-15
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these verses:
‘…fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth…’ Many people have a confused idea about the ‘fear of the LORD’ and ask, Why would God tell us to be afraid of Him?
The Hebrew verb yare means “to fear, to respect, to reverence” and the Hebrew noun yirah “usually refers to the ‘fear’ of God as a positive quality. It is a reverence and respect for God founded in love which fears offending Him and wants to live in a manner pleasing to Him out of love for Him. It is a fruit of learning and obeying God’s Word and imparts wisdom to the Bible believer.
Joshua is admonishing the people to maintain an attitude of reverence and respect towards the God who has so lavishly blessed and cared for them. Is this not an admonishment so needed in our world today? How often do you hear people use the name of the LORD crudely and carelessly, showing no respect? How prevalent is it now to mock and scoff at morals and values that our parents and grandparents taught us? How widespread is a spirit of corruption and debauchery? Truly our society needs a fresh revelation of the fear of the LORD!
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
Joshua added ‘…and serve Him in sincerity and truth…’ Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy. That covers a lot of ground.
To serve the LORD free of pretense completely rules out engaging in prayer, Bible study, financial giving and helping the needy with self-serving motives such as looking good in front of others. He who truly serves the LORD with sincerity is not concerned with the praise of men, but only the approval of God.
To serve the LORD free of deceit is to avoid being two-faced at all costs. As has been said, you may fool your fellow man but you never fool God. We can be two-faced with other people but we can also be two-faced towards God by professing our allegiance to His commandments and principles on the one hand yet living in just the opposite way.
To serve the LORD free of hypocrisy is related to the previous comments yet has a nuance of its own. The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word meaning ‘an actor.’ That’s exactly what a hypocrite is – he pretends to be someone he’s not. Example: someone who makes a show of his religious practices but is mean and hateful in his relationships.
To serve the LORD in truth is to be real, to be honest, straightforward and without pretense, to be the same person at home that you are in social or work situations,.
We are not perfect; we make mistakes, we sin. To serve the LORD in truth is to be humble enough to acknowledge our weaknesses, repent for our transgressions, make things right in whatever way we can and then pick ourselves up and with God’s help do better tomorrow.
Every human being worships someone or something. Joshua challenged the people: ‘Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..’ In reality there are only two choices: you serve yourself or your serve the LORD.
If anything at all – anything – is more important to you than your relationship with the LORD, you are serving yourself in one way or another. ‘But I love God…’ someone may protest. You probably do – the question is ‘How much?’
Listen to yourself talk. It’s quite revealing. The bible says that ‘out of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ Do you realize what that means? Your words reveal who you really are and what you really love the most. Listen to yourself sometime. What you talk about the most is what fills your heart the most.
Do you love Him more than your possessions? Do you love Him more than your opinions, your attitudes, your ideas? Do you love Him more than your money, your house, your career?
And here’s the biggest question of all?Do you love Him more than you love your own will and getting your own way?
To serve God in sincerity and truth is not a choice we make just once in our life; it’s a daily choice to be honest with Him, with ourselves and with others; to be real, to be genuine, to put away from ourselves all hypocrisy, compromise and insincerity.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully? Psalm 24:3-4
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10