Summary: We are a product of the choices we make. ut what’s the most important choice we can make? All healthy choices on the road less traveled start with the decision to serve God.
Matt 7:13-16, 21-23
When I’m on a road trip, do you know what my top two questions are? Where am I going to eat and how can I eat healthy? Here’s the thing: I always start off with the best intentions to eat healthy. I usually work out first, I take water to drink, protein bars to tide me over, a yogurt or two. But it happens to me every time. We pull off the highway and I usually end up getting a cheeseburger, fries and a large Diet Coke. I say to myself, “I’m on vacation after all.” But my original intent to eat healthy isn’t totally lost. I commit to eat only one or two bites of fries. But before I know it, I’m digging in those fries and then my hand goes down in the bag one last time only to find that I’ve eaten every one. Choices. There are always choices on the road. Last week, we learned that we are all on a journey but are called to the Road Less Traveled. This week, we’re talking about the choices we make along the journey.
We are a product of the choices we make. Our lives today are literally the result of 1000’s of choices we’ve made over the years. But what’s the most important choice we can make? In our Scripture today, Joshua has led the Israelites from the desert into the promised land of Canaan. Throughout their time in the wilderness, the Israelites had remembered the faith stories of their ancestors and experienced God’s mighty acts. But now that they had entered the promise land and their newfound freedom, some were making the decision to live like the Gentiles around them and even worship their gods. So, Joshua gathered them together to remind them all God had done: how God had blessed them in miraculous ways and that God had given them this promise land. He reminded them that God had answered the cries of their ancestors, led them out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea. It was God who brought them to this place. And then he pleads with them to turn away from their false idols, stop choosing to serve those things that don't lead to God, and serve one true God who brought them along the journey. Joshua realized the Israelities had to make a choice. “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself this day whom you will serve.” Then Joshua says something that provides the basic foundation on which all healthy choices on the road less traveled must be constructed: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
All healthy choices on the road less traveled start with the decision to serve God. Everything else stems from that. In short, giving our heart to God and God alone is the prerequisite of making healthy choices. Every other decision should flow from that. This is the question on the road of life: who you will serve?
Second, healthy choices come with challenges. For the Israelites, it was the temptation to live as the Gentiles did in their newfound land. And who can blame them? They knew how to live and thrive in their new home and had done so for generations. Following their ways would be so much easier. What you’ll find is that your mind and peer pressure from others try to convince you to take the easy road. They’ll will tell you the narrow road is too hard. Healthy choices can be painful at times. When you make a decision to follow Christ, problems and difficulties always arise and when they do, you’ll be tempted to take the easy road.
To serve God is not a one-time decision. There are always choices we face. This is a decision we must make every day: who are we going to serve this day? Are we going to choose God's path for our lives and serve Him or choose the world’s path. Not just on sunny days but rainy days, in sickness and in health, when we feel like it and even when we don't. Not just in big decisions like, “What am I going to do with my life?” but in small ones too like, “How am I going to treat the person who just cut me off in traffic?” In every moment, you’re going to have to decide who you’re going to serve.
Jesus faced these days to day decisions as well. When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees whether it was lawful to work on the Sabbath and then a man with a shriveled hand was brought to him, who was he going to serve? When the Sadducees asked to see a sign from heaven, who was he going to serve? And when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane wrestling with whether to go to the cross, who was he going to serve? And his response was, “Not my will, but thine be done.” This is about giving your heart to God, and God alone. It’s the road less traveled. It is the right road but it’s not an easy road. And it is a road that will have to be chosen every day in every moment and in every decision: who am I going to serve?