Bible Passage: Joshua 1
Upon the death of one of mankind’s greatest leaders, the responsibilty of leading the Israelite nation was entrusted to Joshua.
It is worth noting that Joshua was elected as Moses’ successor before the latter’s departure. Joshua’s feelings at that point in time are well worth considering. Imagine the weight of Israelite leadership being thrust upon his shoulders! He would have the entirety of God’s people in his charge! Joshua would be responsible for leading them into the long-awaited Promised Land. While doing so, he would have to ensure the people’s physical and spiritual safety. He would have to take charge in matters of war, and guide the Israelites in leading godly lives. This is on top of a myriad of other responsibilities which will not be mentioned in this sharing. If we were in his shoes, we might very well have done a Moses, pleading for another leader to be chosen instead. As second-in-command, Joshua had already done much work. In the timeless words of Mario Balotelli (a maverick footballer who presently plies his trade for Liverpool Football Club), we might have cried: “Why always me?”
It would not be presumptious to guess that Joshua felt anxious and fearful, perhaps even weariness of heart. However, unlike Moses, the Bible does not record any vehement objections on Joshua’s part. Again, we might deduce that Joshua accepted this responsibility without or with minimal complaints. How was he able to do this?
Firstly, he trusted that God would see him through his service as leader of the Israelites. He believed in His encouraging words. In verses 3 and 4, God told Joshua about the territories the Israelites would successfully conquer. In verse 5, God stated that just as He had been with Moses, He would likewise be with Joshua. With complete faith in God’s promise and strength, Joshua courageously assumed the position of leader.
Secondly, Joshua loved the people of God. His care and concern for the Israelites was sincere and genuine, free of ulterior motives or intentions. His actions as leader were for the good of the Israelites, not personal gain. We would be most unwilling to care for difficult people whom we do not love. Only when we truly love them would we put in effort for their sakes. Even if Joshua did not initially love the Israelites, he understood through what he saw for himself that God loved his people. God continued protecting and nourishing the Israelites despite their repeated trangressions against Him. If God loved His people so much, as leader, for His sake, Joshua loved the Israelites as well. He understood that loving the Israelites would be pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight.
With regard to divine service, when we are tasked with duties that we deem difficult and burdensome, how do we react? Do we allow ourselves to be overcome by trepidation and uncertainty? Collequially speaking, do we attempt to ‘tai-chi’ the work to others as a result? Let us look upon Joshua as an example to emulate. Despite his immense burden, Joshua trusted in God, and willingly took up the responsibilty. Similarly, we should trust that as long as we serve Him with a pure heart, God will always abide with us. He will empower us with what we need to accomplish our duties with aplomb! As Philippians 4:13 goes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Also, when we do church work, it is critical that what we do stems out of genuine love for God and His people, our brethren-in-Christ. It is important to examine our intentions regularly through prayer and Bible reading. When we work, we work for our Father, and for our brothers and sisters, not for ourselves. Only then can we become useful servants of His house.
Put bluntly, church work can seem to be a thankless job. Sometimes, we might catch ourselves thinking: “What am we doing this for? Why should we continue doing this work for others at the expense of ourselves?” This is dangerous. At this point, we might have forgetten the basis for doing divine work. We might have become unknowingly disillusioned by the idea that our work deserves recognition.
If we should ever feel like this, let us remember what John 13:35 has to say: ”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” If our love for God is true, we would love those whom He loves as well. This is why we serve. Christ first loved us, and died that we might be saved from sin. Freely we have received. Therefore, freely we must give to God, and our brethren in loving service. 1 John 4:20 even goes so far as to state: “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
May God bless us as we endeavour to serve Him and our brethren with complete faith, willing hearts, and genuine love.
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”