On holiday with our young grandchildren recently, we were frequently having to say “Be careful…”, or even “Be very careful …”, as they tried to clamber over slippery rocks or strayed too near the edge of a fast-flowing river. Generally we tend to associate those words with the need to avoid danger or some unwise action. In the Bible warnings are frequently given about the dangers of sin and ungodly behaviour, or about the work of the enemy.
Today’s verse, however, is not about avoiding danger but about being careful to do! The directive that Joshua gives the people of Israel in his valedictory message is to be very careful to love the LORD their God. That command is as relevant for us today as it was for the people then. We are in relationship with God, and the most important aspect of that relationship is love – God’s for us, which is eternal and unchanging, and ours for Him. Our love for God, however, is not always steadfast and unchanging as His is for us. It needs working on, which is why Joshua warned the people to ‘be very careful’ to maintain it. How do we do that?
First of all it is important to remember that love is not just about feelings, it’s about choices and decisions. If we’re to be careful to love God, we need to keep making choices that will put Him first rather than our own carnal nature. Jesus says: ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me’ (John 14:21). So if we’re to be careful to love, we need to be careful to obey, not just in the major issues in our lives, but in daily choices to put God first and not to feed our fleshly desires.
Secondly we need to be very careful to spend quality time with Him. Any relationship needs time spent together, and that’s particularly so in our relationship with God. It’s easy to let activity, busy-ness or tiredness (or even television or the computer!) crowd out quality time spent in His presence. One way we can be very careful to love Him is to guard our time with Him.
Will you be very careful to love the Lord your God today and in all the days ahead?
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for being neglectful over my love for You; for not always putting You first and for allowing other things to intrude in our time together. I want to be very careful to love You in future, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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