FIVE criteria to DECIDE our ‘TRUE’ Christian DISCIPLESHIP: "But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. (Joshua 22:5-6)
Just before the Israelites were about to enter the land of Canaan, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh came to Moses and requested that they wanted to be allotted land property east of the Jordan River because the land of Jazer and Gilead had lots of green pastures to feed their cattle (Numbers 32:1-4). Instead of the Promised Land, they wanted this land property as their eternal possession, and did not want to cross the Jordan River (v. 5).
However, when Moses explained to them that it was God’s intention all along to take them to the Promised Land that He had sworn to their forefather Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, these two and half tribes understood the implications of their decision. They requested Moses that their families may remain in the cities of Gilead, but they (the men) would arm themselves and go with the other Israel tribes to fight and subdue the Canaanites. They would return back to their land only after all of Canaan was subdued by the Israelites (Num. 32: 16-32).
It was now over seven years since the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh had left their loved ones to fight the Canaanites. They had endured the hardships of combat until the land of Canaan was secured for the Israelites. Now that the land west of the Jordan River had been divided for the remaining tribes, Joshua permitted the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh to return to their territory east of the Jordan, as originally agreed. He also told them to take with them their share of the spoil from the battles they had fought!
However, just before these tribes headed back to their families east of the Jordan River, Joshua gave them five criteria to decide for themselves if they were truly obeying God’s commandment (Joshua 22:5-6), which are as follows:
- Love God sincerely
- Walk in the ways of God
- Keep God’s commandments
- Hold fast to God alone
- Serve God with all heart and soul
Let us remember that for the New Testament Covenant Church also, these five criteria will decide if the believers are truly Christian disciples. These five criteria are the essence of the “first and great commandment”, to love God wholeheartedly (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37). Loving God is much more than an affirmation or a feeling; it is obedience, loyalty, and service to God above all else. Let us make a decision today that we will obey God using these five criteria, and please Him through our daily Christian living!