What does it mean for a true Christian to follow God fully? It means following the Lord:
There are many who follow God in fits and starts. Their lives include periods of zeal and holiness, but also periods of laziness and sinfulness. They are not consistent in their walk with God. Their spiritual life and spiritual efforts are like a roller. This month they’re on fire, the next they’re as cold as ice.
Those who follow God fully, follow him consistently; not just on Sundays, but every day; not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.
That’s what Caleb did (see Youth Feature, October ET). He refused to yield to the murmuring rebels who surrounded him for 40 years in the wilderness. He was determined to follow God consistently, even if it meant rejection by his peers.
It means following the Lord with all your heart, because he is holy, beautiful and lovable. This means we must be willing to sacrifice all or suffer anything for him. That’s what Caleb did.
When the Israelites picked up stones to stone Caleb to death because he said that Israel should go into the land of Canaan, Caleb didn’t flinch. He was determined to follow God sincerely, even if it would mean his life.
If our following God is sincere, nothing will keep us from him. Seek grace to follow God like Caleb, from the depths of your heart.
Caleb didn’t pick and choose which commands he felt like doing, but did whatever the Lord told him to do, no matter what the cost. His obedience was not partial, but complete.
The tendency of many who set out to follow God is to divide life into different compartments: work is one compartment, play another and religion another. But those who follow God fully, follow him holistically, in every single area of life.
They want their choice of life-partner, education and occupation, the way they look at everything — be it politics or science — to be God-directed, God-centred and God-glorifying.
They don’t try to find loopholes or sneak inconsistencies into their lives, so that they can enjoy a little sin here or there. No, they follow God fully in every area of their lives.
Since Caleb made the Lord his preeminent pursuit, the Lord could say of Caleb, ‘Caleb is my servant — his whole life is freely surrendered and consecrated to me and my will’.
In your life, you will encounter all sorts of influences and influencers. Those who follow God fully, follow only him, and others also following him. They will follow none but their Master Jesus.
They want Christ to be the centre and purpose of all they think, say and do. Like Paul, they strive to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. They want their entire life to be lived solus Christus — to Christ and his glory alone.
Caleb didn’t waste his life. When we are first introduced to him, the Bible tells us that he ‘followed God fully’. Then, after another 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and fierce battles with the Canaanites, now an old man, he is rewarded ‘because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel’ (Joshua 14:14).
After all those years and trials, difficulties and temptations, Caleb is described as one who wholly followed the Lord.
In the end, the Lord fulfilled his promise for Caleb: ‘Him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it’. God gave him the promised inheritance and ensured that his children would follow in his steps in the Promised Land.
When millions of Israelites were too afraid to fight the giants of Anak, Caleb believed that God could grant them the victory. And when he returned to that land 40 years later, it was Caleb who defeated the giants, the sons of Anak (Joshua 15:14).
Imagine that! When Caleb was in his 80s, he and his sons singlehandedly defeated those very giants that two million Israelites feared they couldn’t conquer!
Where were those millions now who had chosen not to follow God fully? Their corpses were rotting in the wilderness. Any life but a life lived fully and faithfully for Jesus is wasted.
Over the centuries, young men and women have lived incredible lives for Christ. In themselves they were nothing, but, by the grace of God, they became incredible trophies of God’s glory.
You are often at a crossroads in your life. What career will you pursue? What occupation will you enter? Before you answer those questions, you must answer this one: Will you waste your life or will you follow God fully? There’s a saying: ‘Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last’.
In the coming months and years, you will be bombarded with messages from almost every angle: live for money, your career, the weekend, sex, cars, religion, rules or reputation. All those messages boil down to just one pathetic message: waste your life!
Will you waste your life or live for Christ, and be amazed at the incredible things God can do for you and through you?
‘You were right, Davey’
You may have heard of David Livingstone (1813–1873), the great missionary explorer who travelled all over Africa and was used for the conversion of thousands of people.
When he was a young boy, he had a close friend at school. The two of them spent much time together and, during that time, Livingstone was saved, whereas the other boy was not.
David tried his utmost to convince his friend to seek Christ. His friend was convinced that the best life would be found in the pursuit of money, pleasure, and leisure — large amounts of them.
When Livingstone eventually died, his body was brought back to England and he was given a state funeral at Westminster. Thousands lined the streets to pay homage to this great man.
One of the onlookers was very impressed with the honour paid to Livingstone. Directly in front of him in the crowd stood a man in ragged clothes who, as the hearse passed by, muttered under his breath: ‘You were right, Davey. You were right’.
This intrigued the first man and, after the procession had passed, he asked the other: ‘What did you mean by those words, “You were right, Davey?”’
The ragged man replied, ‘You see, David and I went to school together and he tried to convince me to give up everything for Christ. I refused and was sure I could live a far better life if I pursued money only. I spent my life in the business world and eventually lost everything. I have nothing, no money and no friends. I see now that Davey was right’.
Will you not pray, ‘Great God of heaven, as I prepare to cross over into the adult world, help me not to waste my life. Help me not to side with the majority report of this world, but let me stand firm for the minority report of Caleb and Joshua, trusting in thy promises. Let me be a Caleb, a Livingstone, who follows thee fully’?
Joel R. Beeke
Dr Beeke is Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, and editor of the Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth.