By this stage we will have heard much about New Year’s resolutions – how to live, what to do and what not to do. We may even have made some ourselves and find that we have already fallen short! However, this verse in Joshua seems to encapsulate for me what the Christian life is all about. First of all we are encouraged to ‘take careful heed’ - which means to give our full care and attention, to make it a priority - to do the commandment and the law. The Christian life is not a passive thing, and Jesus often tells us in the gospels that if we love Him we will do what He says (John 14:15, 15:14).
We tend to think of ‘doing’ as a duty to ‘do good works’, but the first thing that we are told to do here is to love the Lord our God. Loving Him means living in relationship with Him, expressing our love to Him in our worship and praise, putting Him first in our lives, doing what He says and not what our carnal nature desires.
The second part of ‘doing’ the commandment and the law in this verse is to walk in all His ways. Walking is an active thing, and we are to move forward in His ways (not ours or the world’s!), obeying Him one step at a time. It is a bit like a child following in a father’s footsteps, copying all he does. Walking in His ways means living in a Christ-like way all the time – not just when we know people are looking! To do this will mean keeping His commandments, which is the next requirement in the verse.
Fourthly we are told to hold fast to the Lord. During the recent storms in the UK I saw a press photograph of a woman clinging to a tree so as not to be blown away by the strong winds. If we hold fast to the Lord like that we will be able to hold firm during storms and we will not be swayed by winds of opinion or deception. Another picture of holding fast is that of a young child clinging to his father, knowing that is the place of complete security and love.
Lastly the call is to serve the Lord - not just to serve Him, but to serve Him with all our heart and our soul. There’s a challenge! It’s easy to do things for God in a half-hearted way, out of duty because we know it’s what we ought to do. In this New Year, can we serve Him with all our heart and soul because we love Him?
Prayer: Lord, in this New Year, I want to do the commandment and the law in the way that is encapsulated in this verse – I want to love you, to walk in all Your ways, to keep Your commandments and to hold fast to You, so that I can serve You with all my heart and soul. Please help me to do this, and remind me when I am slipping in any part of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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