Can’t Have It Both Ways

I’m sure we have all heard of the saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it to.” My favorite line is, “this isn’t Burger King, you can’t have it your way.” Yet, I think we are all guilty of wanting it our way at times in life. We see this in our text for today, which comes from Joshua 7. Joshua 7:12 says, “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.”

God is speaking to Joshua after Joshua suffered his first military loss since taking leadership of the nation of Israel. While Israel had defeated the people of the city of Jericho before this, they lost to a smaller city, Ai. They were victorious at Jericho because they listened and obeyed what God told them to do. However, they lost the first time fighting against Ai because they didn’t obey the Lord. To be fair, it wasn’t that everyone disobeyed. In fact, it was just one person who disobeyed. But one man’s disobedience led to an entire nation suffering defeat. The story of Achan and the loss at Ai should serve as a strong warning about tolerating sin amongst God’s people. It should also serve as a reminder that the choices that we make rarely only affect us. God had told Israel not to take anything from the city of Jericho. Yet, Achan saw something that looked beautiful and valuable and so he took it. No one else knew what Achan did, but God did, and Israel ended up paying a price. Achan’s reasons for taking the beautiful garment and some money reminds us of the trappings of materialism and greed. Jesus spoke on this in Matthew 6 when He said that we cannot serve two masters. We either completely surrender ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, or we continue as the servants of sin. There is no such thing as a 99% Christian.

What this means for you and I is that we must completely surrender ourselves to Jesus. This isn’t just a one time thing. It is something that Jesus said in Luke 9:23 that we are to do each day. There will always be the pull of materialism, greed, and other sins in our lives. But each day we must choose which appetite are we going to feed. Are we going to feed our sinful, self-centered appetite that says life is all about me and what I want? Or, are we going to feed the Christ-centered appetite that seeks to please God and live for His glory? This is why Joshua said in Joshua 24:15, “Choose you this day whom you will serve…” It is a day by day decision that we must make. By God’s grace, He didn’t leave us alone to make that choice. He has given His children His Spirit to live inside of us, to help us to know Him and obey Him each and every day. So let’s make sure that each day we wake up to surrender that day to God, and ask for His help to live for Him so that others can see Him living in us.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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