Under what standard will you walk
“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Confucius said if he walked with two men, he'd look at the positive example in one of them and imitate that behavior, while seeking to eliminate the negative behavior he observed while walking with the other man. I daresay that is a dangerous way to live our lives because choosing any 'standard' other than God to base our decision about what character needs to be built in our lives is living by a 'low standard'. We can see the negative traits or behavior in another and seek to eliminate similar behavior in our own, but no one is made 'well' spiritually by just eliminating what is negative and embracing what they see as positive.
God called Israel to choose to serve him - to not set their standard of living by the culture they were immersed within. They would have been in cultures where false gods were erected and worshipped. They would have seen many pagan practices that were sometimes quite vile and unwholesome. The question Joshua put before them on that day was one of 'choice' or what some of us have come to call 'preference'. Will you prefer to serve the one true God, or some other form of 'god' created by human mind and hand? It is a question of what we will hold as our example - man or God himself.
Put away forever any other standard other than God himself - choose to serve him and him alone. This is the instruction. Too many times, we hold up examples of 'goodness' and 'evil' around us, thinking we could emulate the behavior of one and eliminate the behavior of the other just by our own power or inner will. The matter is a bit more complicated than that - for our examples are all a bit flawed when we choose any example other than Christ. Yes, we can learn from positive examples, and even observe negative ones and choose not to walk down that path in our lives. We might just lack the 'know-how' to live as God wants us to live, though.
For that, we need what is written in God's Word - just as the nation of Israel needed God's instructions so many years ago. There is no true measure by which we can see the good or evil as well as that which we find contained within the Word. We might find ourselves following a 'lower standard' than God desires for those who would choose to serve him if we choose any other standard than his Word. Just sayin!