As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. — Joshua 11:15 (NIV)
Before Moses died he gave Joshua a clear set of instructions. Moses laid out for him a job description. Joshua was to take the Israelites into the Promised Land, drive out all enemies, and get God’s people settled into their assigned places. Although Moses wouldn’t be around to supervise Joshua, the assignment stood. Joshua understood what he was supposed to do.
How did Joshua handle his assignment? The Bible tells us.
Joshua “left nothing undone.” The work Moses assigned to Joshua, Joshua completely finished.
The Hebrew word for “undone” means “to leave or go away.” Joshua didn’t walk away from his duties, his assignments, or his leadership responsibilities. He didn’t abdicate them. He stayed with the work until all the work assigned to him was done. Joshua neglected nothing that Moses told him to do. He followed through conscientiously and completely. He understood the importance of completing everything Moses charged him to finish.
What’s the lesson for us? It’s an important reminder about the dangers of abdication of our responsibilities and neglect of our duties. It’s a fresh wake-up call about the value of finishing our work well.
Why are these things so critical? Who do they matter so much?
Abdication of one’s duties often has serious consequences. Neglect allows destructive things to happen. Laziness, lack of engagement and restricted involvement with assignments or responsibilities result in decline. It doesn’t always take long for this decline and destruction to begin. In many cases it starts immediately. In other cases, it only becomes evident over time.
We see the negative effect of undone things in the natural world. What happens to an untended garden? What are the consequences of a neglected marriage? The law of entropy–things moving from order to disorder, and the law of motion–the necessity of providing impetus and maintaining momentum; the power of animation and the curse of inertia–work in every realm of life. Abdication or neglect of one’s duties and responsibilities create all kinds of unnecessary problems and decline.
The sooner someone notices and addresses abdication and neglect the better chance there is for recovery and mitigation. The key is to quickly recognize and work diligently to reverse the impact of it. Better still, is to avoid it altogether.
As challenging as the task of conquering Canaan was, Joshua didn’t let up until the job was completely done. Let’s leave nothing “undone” in the work assigned to us!