Growing in Grace – Have I Not Commanded You?

Jeremy MarshDevotional Blog

Editorial Note: I’m excited to launch a regular devotional blog with this post.  The title of the blog comes from 2 Peter 3:18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  My humble hope and prayer is that what I share here may help others in that endeavor.  My plan is to begin by sharing a series of brief devotionals from the book of Joshua, the source of our theme verse for the year and one that I believe is relevant to some of the challenges we’re facing today.  Thank you for reading.   

Have I Not Commanded You? 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9.  

It’s easy to gloss over the first five words of our school’s 2020-21 theme verse.  If you’re like me, you want to jump right to the part about being strong and courageous.  Perhaps we need to spend some time on the question the Lord begins with: “have I not commanded you?”    

Why would the Lord start this way?  This reads like a rhetorical question, defined as “a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer.”  If it is that, what is the point the Lord is trying to make?  

If you’re a parent, think about your mood when you ask your child, “haven’t I already told you this?”  Or vice versa, how do you feel when you’re asked a question like that?  A little foolish, no?  You might think, “Yes, you did say that, and I didn’t remember it very well.”  

It comes as no surprise that we are foolish and forgetful, but I don’t think that is the Lord’s point here.  Unlike me (when I say something like that), the Lord is infinitely patient with his children, slow to anger, and abounding in love.  His question, “have I not commanded you?” is, I believe, not meant to highlight something about us, but rather to highlight something about him.  It serves as a gentle reminder, to a person (Joshua) and a people (the Israelites) who, like us, were prone to forget that God was with them.  

It’s the promise and the reality of his presence that enables us to do what he commands, to be strong and courageous. That’s the point!     

Questions are always good starting points for thinking.  In fact, they are the #1 tool in the teacher’s toolbox.  As you consider this verse today, don’t gloss over the question.  “Have I not commanded you?”  What command and promise do you need to remember today in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus?