At the outset of Joshua’s role as leader of the Israelite community, God gave him a strong charge. Today we’re not called to lead a nation like Joshua, but his charge from God still contains a powerful message for how we are to live our lives.
“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their ancestors to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:6-9).
Grab on to those two commands and let them drive your life:
- Stay true to God’s Word.
- Be strong and courageous (because God is with you).
For the moment, I want to focus on that first command. Most Christians would agree that we need to stay true to God’s Word, or at least they give lip service to the idea. Only 38 percent of Christian believe there is a clear standard for right and wrong [source]. The problem I see in America is that Christians readily acknowledge the importance of the Bible, but they let culture and politics determine how they read and apply the Bible.
We must begin with the Bible. Period. It’s important that we read it in light of its historical context and the meaning the biblical writers intended under God’s hand. If we are going to “carefully observe everything written in it,” Bible study is critical. We must learn to read the Scripture from its own perspective.
God told Joshua, “Do not turn from it [God’s instruction] to the right or to the left.” God’s call is to stay centered in the truth of His Word. It’s an interesting phrase, considering our country’s political emphasis on the right (conservatives) and the left (liberals). Joshua was not dealing with political factions, but God’s command has strong implications for how we live in these politically-charged times.
“Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.”
Too many Christians turn to the political right (or the left) before they turn to the Scriptures. They’re driven first by their politics, and they let those politics guide their interpretation of Scripture. I’m not opposed to political involvement, but we must make sure we are staying true to the Word more than to a party agenda. Too often we let our politics dictate how we read and interpret Scripture, but it needs to be the other way around.
Consider just a few of the issues that divide us:
- Issues of sexual identity and practice
- How federal funds should be spent
We all have an opinion on these matters, but what does the Bible have to say about them? Some issues like abortion and sexual morality are easier to address from Scripture, but are we really clear on what the Bible says on those issues? Many can say, “The Bible says …” but they can’t tell you where or what it specifically says.
The Bible doesn’t address how the government spends money, but biblical teaching and principles should guide our thinking on government priorities.
Immigration is harder. The Old Testament law, for example, gave several directives for how the people were to treat outsiders, but how do we relate those principles to our country today?
Before you veer to the right or the left, steer first into God’s Word. Make sure you’re grounded there. Let God’s Word inform your political view, not the other way around.
Subscribe to this blog or like our Facebook page. And share this post with others.
If you would like a printable version of this, check out PrintFriendly.com.