Early in its history, the nation of Israel was led by a man named Joshua. Toward the end of Joshua’s life, he felt the need to draw a line in the sand for the people. His challenge has become one of the better known parts of scripture:
Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Notice Joshua’s thrust in this challenge: the people must choose which god to serve. Will it be the LORD who delivered them from Egypt, or will it be one of the myriad other gods revered by surrounding nations? For Joshua, there is no wiggle room in this question. The people will either serve the LORD or someone else, and he urges them to serve the LORD.
Paul draws a similar line in the sand in Romans 6:15-18. His ultimate goal, like Joshua’s before him, is to call people to serve the LORD, but Paul follows a slightly different line of thought. Christians, he says, can either serve sin or serve righteousness. Serving righteousness ultimately means serving God.
Like Joshua, Paul sees no wiggle room in this question. Christians will either be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. One or the other will be their master – the one they choose to serve. Importantly, Paul isn’t talking about Christians never sinning again. None of us is perfect. Instead, he is talking about the direction of a person’s life. Have we chosen to turn from God to embrace sin, or have we chosen to follow God into righteousness? This is an important question, as it shapes our patterns of living.
Today and each day we are called to choose whom we will serve. May our choices always be righteousness.