“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:14
Toward the end of his life, Joshua called together the leaders of the tribes of Israel and issued them a final challenge. He told them to put away the gods their ancestors had served in Egypt and to follow his example in serving the Lord alone. This came with a warning from Joshua that if they failed to serve the Lord fully and turned back to their idolatry, then they would experience God’s judgment (a reality we see again and again throughout the book of Judges, as well as the people’s exile from the land many years later).
This speaks to our hearts as well. We all come to Jesus with various idols in tow. For us in western cultures, these are not so much trinkets of wood, rock, or gold that we place on our mantles for homage. Yet these are things in our lives that hinder full devotion to Jesus.
In The Imperfect Disciple, Jared Wilson provides a good diagnostic question to determine the idols of our hearts:
This is how you know what your god really is; this is how you know what’s really the treasure of your heart. What is it that you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? You’d give up everything in the world but this one thing. Well, that’s what you worship.
In another book, Gods at War, Kyle Idleman details nine potential idols. Three are in the “temple of pleasure”—food, sex, and entertainment; three in the “temple of power”—success, money, and achievement; and three in the “temple of love”—romance, family, and self.
When Jesus calls us to follow him, he calls us to put away all our idols and worship him alone. He calls us to lay down our very lives to pick up the self-denying sacrifice of our own crosses and follow after him (Luke 9:23). This isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.
The good news is that God gives us grace and the power of his Spirit to actually lay down our idols. The more we focus on God, his greatness, his glory, and the salvation he offers through Jesus, the less our hearts cling to the idols of our past. When Jesus is Lord over our hearts and priorities, it keeps our desires and needs in their proper place and prevents them from growing into hopeless idols.
This concludes our devotional series through Joshua. Look for a new series coming soon!