We find ourselves in the twenty-fourth chapter of Joshua. (Joshua 24:14-18) The people are entering the Promised land. Their emotions must have been running high. Everyone wanted to see the promise fulfilled, but Joshua saw the significance of the moment. For him it was not just the fulfillment of a promise, it was an opportunity establish something new. It was an opportunity to establish something better. It was an opportunity to do something great in the eyes of God, so he challenges the people to consider what they are about to do. Standing on top of a rock or camel, he challenges them. No one is excluded from the challenge. Each one had to decide for themselves. Where they going to be like every other nation or were they going to be unique. Where they going to be a nation preoccupied with their own wants and desires or were they going to be a nation who was preoccupied by God, Himself. It is interesting he does not pass a new national law. It all distilled down to an individual choice. It is the same choice we are still making today. Are you going to follow the ways of this world or are you going to follow the ways of God?
Former first ladyEleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) once said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Did you know the average person will make 27 decisions a day? That means the average person will make 773,618 decisions in their lifetime, regretting 143,262 of them. Making decisions in your life is not a requirement it is an expectation.
Former president Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes when he was a boy. The cobbler asked young Reagan, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Unable to decide, Reagan did not answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” When the future president did so, he found one square-toed shoe and one round-toed shoe! “This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you,” the cobbler said to his indecisive customer. “I learned right then and there,” Reagan said later, “if you do not make your own decisions, someone else will.” So, this the question you must answer. Are you going to follow the ways of this world or are you going to follow the ways of God?
People who study such things say there four different kinds of decisions makers. Your personality will influence how you look at each decision. Within each decision there is a tension between ambiguity and structure and the technical and social. What kind of decision maker are you? Are you a:
Analytical Decisions Maker They enjoy solving problems. They are committed to finding the best answer and thrive on control. Time is not an issue. They will take as much time as possible to find the best option. Do you know of any analytical decision makers? I do. Are you an analytical decision maker?
Conceptual Decision Maker They enjoy the creative. They enjoy creating new ideas. They love the question “what if?” They think about the future, and they consider how it will affect others. Do you know of any conceptual decision makers? I do. Are you a conceptual decision maker?
Directive Decision Maker They are driven by results. They have an aggressive nature and make decision independently. They are strong verbal communicators who make decisions quickly. Do you know of any directive decision makers? I do. Are you a directive decision maker?
Behavioral Decision Maker Theyare great team players, but they can be persuaded. They are good communicators, and they look to others for advice. Do you know of any behavioral decision makers? I do. Are you a behavioral decision maker?
It is important to note that no one is 100% of any of those categories. It is equally important to note no one is void of any of those categories. We are a combination of the four and the combination will change depending on the decision we are making.That takes us back to the scripture lesson.
The people are about to enter the Promised land. They are in a hurry because they have been waiting for this day their entire lives. However, Joshua stops the parade and challenges the people. He tells them they must decide for themselves. Verse 15 quotes Joshua. He says, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
The analytical decision makers had to decide. The conceptual decision makers had to decide. The directive decision makers had to decide. The behavioral decision maker had to decide. Generations later you must decide. Let us be honest, the correct answer is implied, because there is only one correct answer. Joshua was an Old Testament character, so he answered in an Old Testament way. He must serve the Lord! His understanding of the Lord was Yehweh, the one true God. We are New Testament people so we must answer in a New Testament way. Our understanding of the Lord is Jesus. We must serve Jesus. Without Jesus, we have nothing at all.
Gregory the Theologian (329-390) was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the fourth century. He understood the significance of Jesus. He wrote these words for the ages:
He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest. Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.
We must serve the Lord because without Jesus we have nothing at all. You must decide. Who are you going to serve?
Several weeks ago, Kathryn, my sister, Susan, and I drove to Long Island for my Uncle Gary’s memorial service. He died sixteen months ago, but due to the pandemic, his memorial service was delayed. He was buried at the Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, New York. He had quite a life. He lived to be nearly one-hundred years old. As a nineteen-year-old, he fought in the later stages of the Battle of the Bulge and remained in Europe until the conclusion of World War II. He was successful professionally and he was successful personally. He was fortunate because he married the love of his life, my Aunt Elaine. They met as teenagers and were married sixty-eight years.
They had four daughters, in birth order, Elaine, Alice, Nancy, and Roberta. That means they are my cousins. Each one is more annoying in their own way. The eldest is Elaine, who is married to Chuck, who is also annoying. He may be the most annoying. They live in Maryland which is a good thing because a rarely travel to the “Old Line State.” The next is Alice. She cared for her parents in their old age and sacrificed her happiness for them. The truth is she is not annoying at all. She has a good heart and I like her. The youngest is Roberta. She is married to Craig. They live in Maryland too. She is eleven years younger than her oldest sister. I wish, I knew her better.
The one closest to me in age is Nancy. She wins the prize for be the most annoying. She married her high school sweetheart, Hal. Personally, I like him, but when he appeared on the scene decades ago, he caused quite a stir. The problem was not him. The problem was his religion. Hal is Jewish and my cousins were raised Christian. They were active members of their local United Methodist Church. I remember attending Nancy and Hal’s wedding on the shores of the Hudson River. I do not remember any strong religious theme. It was more secular. My aunt and uncle never made a big deal out of their religious differences. They just wanted their daughter to be happy. However, it did become an issue, several years later when Nancy and Hal announced they were having a baby. Everyone on the bride’s side wanted the baby to be raised a Christian. Everyone on the groom’s side wanted the baby to be raised Jewish. Hal and Nancy thought they were disarming the situation when they announced the baby would be raised neither Christian nor Jewish. The baby, a beautiful little girl named Rachel, would decide for herself. What do you think she decided? Would she be a Christian or would she do a Jewish? However, that is not the question you must answer. This is your question. Are you going to serve the ways of this world or are you going to serve the ways of God?
Do you remember the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt? She said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” The question you must answer is, what are you going to decide? It is the same question Joshua asked those ancient Hebrews centuries ago. Are you going to follow the ways of this world or are you going to follow the ways of God? There is only one correct answer. You must choose to follow Jesus. Without Jesus, we have nothing at all.