Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." He said, "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." Joshau 24: 22-23 NRSV
Joshua did not make the people choose to serve God. He only told them to be their own witnesses and they accepted this. It is the people who swear to serve God, and to forsake foreign gods. The people say that they will obey God and be God's people. Yet, Joshua has to tell them to carry out what they have said they will do. "If you are going to swear and be your own witnesses, then stop adopting the foreign religions and worship practices among you!"
It is as if the people speak with their mouths but their actions are far from what they speak.
What have you promised to do? Have you taken a look at your wedding vows lately? How about what you promised to do when you joined your church? Are there any other covenants that you have signed your name to in the last year or so? Somehow, I think our eyes tend to glaze over when these sorts of promises are read to us and we just click on "Agree."
You know, God doesn't make us promise to pray for our church or give our tithes and offerings. God doesn't put a gun to our heads when we say we are going to cherish our spouse. When we agree to do something, especially in front of witnesses, we need to do as we say.
Yet, every Lent, you and I both need to hear Joshua's words: "Then put those other things away and incline your hearts to the Lord."
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims