“Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!” Joshua 1:17
After Moses died, Joshua, Moses’ apprentice, takes charge of the people. Just before they are to begin their conquest into the land God had promised them, Joshua gives a sort of pep talk to the people. He reminds the people of what God had said through Moses, and the people respond in verse 17: “Just as we obeyed Moses in all things! Sure, Joshua, we got you, just like we had Moses. Let’s do this thing!”
This had to be a heartwarming moment for the people and for Joshua! All pistons are firing and everyone is on the same page. Truly, utopia had been arrived at, save for one little issue: the statement was false!
How easily forgotten were the sins of the people–they themselves had already forgotten all the times they, as a people, had turned on Moses and begged for the yoke of slavery in Egypt! The people hadn’t obeyed Moses in all things, that was the reason for their multi-decade wandering, and that was why Joshua was giving them like their fifteenth reminder. Yet in their rationalization and strategic forgetfulness, they are susceptible to let their guard down.
And often I am just the same way. I know God chooses to remember my sins no more, and so I do the same. I inflate myself and feel incapable of doing wrong, and judge others from my lofty state of perfection. “Of course I’ll obey,” I tell God like He’s a silly, forgetful child, “Don’t I always!”
Except I don’t.
It is important not to rationalize away our capability for wrongdoing. While we shouldn’t wallow in shame, we also shouldn’t reassure ourselves from our own hollow self-justification or pride. No, at all times we need to be mindful of our past and present shortcomings and therefore renew our longing for help and hope, a hope had not through our own conjuring up of goodness, but one found in another.