Love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, obey His commands, hold firmly to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul (Joshua 22:5).
A 2012 survey of US Millennials—ages 18 to 24— uncovered an interesting trend. The study, led by the Public Religion Research Institute, revealed that one in four young adults chose “unaffiliated” for their religious commitment. But 55 percent of that group had “identified with a religious group” when they were younger. They had simply walked away from the faith they once embraced.
Sadly, many believers in Jesus turn away from their “first love” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV). Knowing that the people of ancient Israel were prone to wander away from God, Joshua called together the “eastern tribes” to commend them and give them counsel. He commended them for faithfully following God’s commands as they helped to clear Canaan (Joshua 22:2-3). The Promised Land had been claimed and was now prepared for God’s people.
But as he sent the three tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) back to their homes on the east side of the Jordan (Joshua 22:4), Joshua also had some instructions for them (Joshua 22:5):
• “Love”—To maintain their relationship with God, they needed to love Him deeply.
• “Walk”—To stay in step with God, they needed to follow His ways completely.
• “Obey”—To honor God, they needed to obey His commands unceasingly.
• “Hold”—To stay strong in their faith, they needed to hold firmly to God uniquely.
• “Serve”—To live out their faith, they needed to serve God sincerely.
To make sure you don’t begin moving away from God—slipping from unashamed believer (Romans 1:16) to unaffiliated nonbeliever—consider the five words Joshua spoke to the people. As we love, walk, obey, hold, and serve in our relationship with God, our hearts will stay rooted in Him (Joshua 22:5).
Read Joshua 1:6-9 and see what God told Joshua at the onset of Israel’s claiming of the Promised Land.
How is your love for God being tested? Which of Joshua’s five words do you most need to consider today in your relationship with God? Why?