One day, over two million people gathered for a special meeting with their leader. The leader was old, and everyone present knew this may be his final public speech.
The people listened closely as this respected statesman recounted their national history in a mere eleven sentences. In this brief overview, he highlighted a significant pattern—the cause and effect sequence of the nation’s spiritual choices. He pointed out the blessings that came as they worshiped God and the judgment that followed when they turned to idols.
At the climax of the speech, the statesman urged his people to consistency and authenticity: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord” (Joshua 24:14).
The leader was Joshua, and the nation was Israel. Joshua 24 records this speech, and verses 14–27 spell out three steps that Joshua led the nation of Israel to take. We, too, can follow these steps if we want to live authentic Christian lives.
1. Make a Choice
Maybe this sounds like a simple first step. After all, these steps are all about choosing. Yet, we often overlook the significance of making a concrete decision.
In Joshua 24:15, Joshua basically drew a line in the sand and asked the Israelites to choose on which side they would stand: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
In this choice, there could be no divided loyalties—no mixed allegiances. And so it is with us. Authentic Christianity calls for complete consecration to the Lord. We cannot straddle the fence, changing our responses based on whom we are with at the moment. We cannot live one way publicly while feeding pet sins privately. The very nature of authenticity speaks of consistency.
2. Make a Commitment
Making a decision and following through on that decision are two different actions. Joshua challenged the people that it wasn’t enough just to say they would serve the Lord. He told them, “Put away…the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23). They had to follow their stated choice with a commitment to action.
Perhaps there are some areas where your life isn’t as genuine as you would like it to be. Make a commitment to act in those areas. List specifically what you need to change, and then set about to make those necessary adjustments.
3. Make a Commemorative Memorial
Joshua wanted the people to remember and live out the decision they had just made. Thus he “Took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God” (Joshua 24:26–27). Every time an Israelite walked past that stone, Joshua wanted them to remember the special commitment they had pledged to the Lord.
Perhaps you could set a “memorial stone” in your life—a physical reminder of your choice to be a real Christian. This may be a record of the decision in your Bible, or it may be something in your home—maybe jewelry or a decorative item—that reminds you of authenticity. Whatever it is, find a way to remind yourself of your commitment to God to develop a relationship with Him that is real and fruitful.
Which is more valuable—a diamond or a cubic zirconium? Leather or vinyl? A genuine five-dollar bill or a counterfeit one-hundred dollar bill?
Imitation and synthetic products may be less expensive and easier to come by, but real is always more valuable. And so it is with real Christians.
Authenticity is a treasure. Choose it. Insist on it. Refuse to settle for half-hearted service or surface success. Determine to genuinely walk with God, and ask Him to, by His grace, work His likeness into your life.
This article is an excerpt from the book The Choice Is Yours Available from Striving Together Publications.