It is a great struggle for me not to worship at the feet of my approval idol. Consequently, it’s easy to internalize any criticism, even when it’s the well-placed and much-needed constructive sort. If you say “this paragraph needs work” there is a good chance what I will hear is “you aren’t a very talented writer.” The enemy teams up with my flesh to feed me such lies, and I eat them often.
The idea that our self-worth and sense of value should come from God instead of the approval of men is important, but it’s not the idea I want to write about today. Today I want to talk about what happens when you really have screwed up. Everyone has times they look down the path of the righteous and say “Naw, man, I do what I want” before Irish clog dancing the other way.
Joshua’s words recorded in Josh. 24:22 are especially potent after such lapses: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship Yahweh.”
Sheesh! That hurts. So many people love to quote the end of verse 15 (“As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh”), but I wonder how many of us realize the context of this passage is a rather pointed indictment of the people’s unfaithfulness toward God. Joshua literally tells the Israelites that they will not be able to worship God.
And, for those of you who haven’t read ahead, he’s absolutely correct. The Israelites are barely even into the land before they turn from God. The same is true for me. I am a failure.
The worship duo Shane and Shane has a song called “Embracing Accusation” in which the singer laments that the Accuser is reminding him that he is cursed because of sin. The last verse is so great, though.
Oh the devil’s singing over me
An age old song
That I am cursed and gone astray
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
He’s forgotten the refrain
The worst thing about writing and editing for the Gospel Project is how easy it is to let the magnificent truth of Jesus become common. I rehash the general outline of Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, conquering resurrection, and eventual and victorious return almost every day. Sometimes I forget that despite the benefits of meditating on the gospel every day, it’s not an “everyday” sort of story.
But do you want to know the best thing about writing and editing for the Gospel Project? It is how often I get to relearn that the magnificent truth of Jesus is not common.
As you prepare to teach “Joshua’s Final Encouragement,” remember to steep your life in the gospel. You are a failure, but Jesus saves failures. Remind the kids in your ministry that God’s goodness flows from God’s character; He is good, faithful, and trustworthy. We are a broken bunch of people, but Jesus makes all things new.
Who stands up for me against the wicked?
Who takes a stand for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my helper,
I would soon rest in the silence of death.
If I say, “My foot is slipping,”
Your faithful love will support me, Lord.
When I am filled with cares,
Your comfort brings me joy.
What are your favorite verses or worship songs that remind you of God’s goodness in the midst of failures? Post a comment below!
Sam O’Neil is a Content Editor for The Gospel Project for Kids. Prior to working at LifeWay, he worked as a Family Resources Resident for The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. He now lives with his wife and dog in Nashville, TN and serves in the children’s ministry at Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN.