Joshua’s final remarks to the Israelites are sprinkled with important reminders. I’ve posted three of the prominent ones this week. At the end of that came his call to commitment, found in the famous words of Joshua 24:14-15, “So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD” (NLT).
In so many words, Joshua was saying, “I can only speak for me. Each one of you has to make his or her own choice about who you will serve and the kind of life you will live.” The people responded by saying, “We will serve the Lord.” Upon hearing that commitment, Joshua rolled a single stone in front of them and declared that the rock had heard their commitments and would bear witness to those promises to serve the Lord from that day forward.
The book began with twelve stones being placed in a pile to serve as a memorial to the Lord parting the waters of the Jordan River. Those twelve stones symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel as a corporate body. But this single stone represented each person’s unique and private commitment to God.
At the end of the day, Joshua was right. He could only speak for himself. He couldn’t make a pledge, promise, or vow for another. The same is true today. I can only speak for me and you can only speak for you. I was reminded of a quote this morning that made me think of this principle. The quote was, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Too many times we want to make others responsible for what could be. We want political candidates and government officials to provide change. We want teachers and coaches to make the needed difference in our homes and communities. We want doctors and medicines to somehow turn back the clock and fix our medical challenges, regardless of the fact that we have spent years neglecting our personal health. We want church leaders and pastors to be the catalysts for hope in our congregation. But as I’ve said before, I can only speak for me and you can only speak for you. The choice is ours.