And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve…
I. CHOOSE. The melancholy majority of men never did choose their course of life, but have been content to take it from circumstances, from accident, from teachers, from outward influences in which they happened to find themselves. And although they may, step by step, have chosen immediate action for immediate results, what a host of people there are that never set clearly before them the definite aim for which they were living. Choose. Standing as you do at the parting of the ways, get a clear notion of what you are aiming at, and do not let yourselves be moulded by mere accident; do not let yourselves be mere children of impulse; do not owe the shape of your lives to the pressure of circumstances; do not let yourselves be ruled by the moment's inclination; do not be like the weeds in the stream, that move only as it flows. Do not be like the jelly-fishes in the sea, that have no locomotion, or next to none, who are borne along helplessly in the current. "Be a hammer, and not an anvil." Choose! Do not let the world shape you. Exercise your will, your reason, your conscience. Formulate your purposes, say to yourselves what you mean to be and to do; and say it strongly, for this world is no place for weaklings; and wishes and inclinations and good intentions are all very well, but they are not enough. Will and choose, and in the name of God choose the right.
II. CHOOSE GOD. I mean choose the God that has come near to you in the Saviour that has loved you and lived for you and died for you; and give your hearts up to Him to be cared for, to be blessed, and your spirits to Him to be cleansed, and to be saved; and then, yielding yourselves to Christ, you will have taken God for your portion. Contrast for one moment the objects that are set before you for your love, trust, and service. And opposite: what a rabble of bestial divinities! Surely there need be no question where a man's heart may fold its wings, like a weary dove, and rest for evermore. For not only is there a contrast between the objects, but there is also a contrast between the results.
III. CHOOSE GOD NOW. It can never be too soon to do what is right and noble; it can never be too soon to do what is duty and safety. And let me tell you four reasons why I pray you this. First, the peril of delay. It is not likely that many of you will be laid in your graves before this day next year; it is certain that some of you will. And because no hand can point to the one that will, let us all listen to the beseeching, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Second, because of the rapidly increasing difficulty of making a choice, which is a change. When the clay is on the potter's wheel the lightest touch of the finger can impress it with any form that he desires; when it is taken off and hardened, nothing will change the shape of the vase but smashing it to fragments. Thirdly, because of the loss that you sustain by delay. Why should you be another day without the best blessing that a man can have? Why should you be another day poorer than you need to be? Fourthly, because of the bitter fruits which you are laying up for yourselves by delay, if ever you come to Christ. I would have you "innocent of much transgression." I would have you to "grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," that you may never have to look back, in the event of a late return to Him, on a life all given to idols, consumed for self and wasted by sin.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."