In these times of our lives we are faced with many tough choices such as go to war, or not to go to war, divorce, or no divorce, life support, or no life support, abortion, or no abortion, who to marry, And who not to marry, buy a house, or not buy a house, invest for the future, or how much to invest for the future, go to college, or not to go to college, or to which college should we go?
These are many of the tough choices humans are called to choose upon more frequently than one might imagine.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ made it clear when He said we would indeed be faced with making tough choices. God knew full well that we would run up against tough times and tough choices in this present earthly life. Thus, with choices come consequences; Some good, and some bad. So, what is a consequence? The dictionary defines a consequence as "an act or instance of following something as an effect, result, or outcome." For instance, did you know that life or death is a choice? God explains this through His Word, The Holy Bible:
Read: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Every day we make many choices, most of which are routine such as what we eat, what to wear, or where we go. Occasionally, our choices result in unexpected joy and happiness while others bring great disappointment and heartache. Often we are called upon to make major choices that affect entire family relationships which could involve religion, our profession, education, or even life and death considerations. Probably all of us have known individuals who have made some bad decisions and others who have made some good decisions. Regardless of whether good or bad our choices have some type of controversy.
CHOICES / CONSEQUENCES
Adam & Eve eat of forbidden fruit./Death, banned from Eden and pain.
Cain offering unacceptable sacrifice./Reprimanded by God.
Cain killing his brother./Became a marked wanderer.
Noah building the ark./Considered righteous and saved mankind.
Abraham sacrificing his son./Received promises.
Moses chose God./Became the leader of a great nation.
Mary desired to be used by God./Birth of Jesus who became our sacrifice.
Judas betrayed Jesus for money./Committed suicide.
Paul repented, obeyed and immersed./Became the Apostle to the Gentiles. Authored 13 letters (epistles) of the New Testament.
Whatever our choices might be in any given situation, we must be mindful of their consequences and ramifications. In other words, how might our choices impact others? For instance, let's say that the person driving behind you is tailgating you in such a way that they are so close that if you could open your rear window, you could reach out and introduce yourself. Certainly, this person's driving behavior might very well get on your nerves, so you decide to oblige this pesky tailgater with a not so attractive hand gesture. At that very moment, you might think that you are justified in doing so, but what might the negative consequences be after rendering such a choice?
Here are just a few possibilities:
Most importantly, what would God think about such a choice?
The tailgater decides to engage you in an unfriendly game of road rage.
The tailgater's children are in their vehicle and witness your non-Christian behavior. What influence might that have on these innocent and impressionable young children?
Your passengers witness your non-Christian behavior. What influence might that have on them? What would they then think about you?
What would God think about you?
Read: Galatians 6: 7
I pray that you take God's Word, His Holy Bible literally. I do. What God says, I believe to be 100% true and intimately personal. We must know — accept this and do so by reading, studying, and applying God's Word to each and every choice we make; Not just the tough choices, but all choices, and all decisions.
Read: Joshua 1: 8
2 Timothy 3: 16-17: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teachers us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
How can we go about making the right choices in all situations?
This is a powerful question. The answer is provided by Jesus. As we come face-to-face with a situation that requires us to make a choice, we must first know the facts about what is it we are about to decide upon. In other words, we would simply wake up one morning, jump in our car, drive directly to our nearest auto dealer, pick the first car we see, and just buy it? If we were to decide to make a stock purchase, we would simply log into any old online stock trader and randomly buy 1000 shares of whatever pops up first? If we were applying for a job, we would haphazardly apply and accept such a position without knowing how much we might be paid? Would we send our children to a local school without first visiting the school site, or meeting with an administrator? We would hit the mall, waltz into our favorite clothing store, grab the first pair of pants in reach, and bypass all fitting rooms before swiping our debit card and making the purchase? Of course we would not!
We must conduct our own due diligence prior to making any choice. We must realize that knowledge is power. We must analyze our choices before deciding and we must always count the cost.
Read: Luke 14: 28-30
It is so unfortunate, we all have made choices based on something we may have learned; Something we experienced; Something we may have very well thought to be the right choice only to completely discover that the choice we made turned significantly bad for us or others around us. Is it so crucial that we make our choices in a split second? Certainly, if our five year old dashed out into traffic after the family dog, we would react quickly and instinctively to protect the life of our child, but if we think about it, how often do the choices we are faced with that kind of Speed and decisiveness? The answer is actually, not often at all.
With this awareness in mind, we should purposefully make the time to consider all potential consequences before rendering any decision. Even during those instances of "easy choices," it is always best to think and even briefly pray before what to do, what to say, or how to act. We can always make the best choices, but only if we, on purpose, trust God and seek His advice first.
Matthew 6:33: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live rightly, and he will give you everything you need.
Proverbs 3: 5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
In Isaiah, Chapter 8, verses 5 through 15, we can know that because the people of Judah rejected God's gentle care in favor of seeking help from other nations, God planned to punish them. In verse 6 God states, "My care for the people of Judah is like the gentle flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it." Here we see two distinct attributes of God — His love and His wrath. Continually ignoring God's love and guidance often leads us into trouble, which invites His wrath. We must recognize the connotation of our choices. God seeks to protect us from bad choices, but He still gives us the freedom to make them.
In the book of Acts, the book containing the history of the church and God's Holy Spirit, chapter 1, versions 21 and 22, the apostles had to choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot. They proceeded by carefully outlining the specific criteria before making their choice. When the "finalists" had been chosen, the apostles approach God in prayer, asking Him to guide their selection process. In that way, they knew they had chosen well.
Read: Acts 1: 21-22
One final word about making tough choices, we must be ever careful not to allow the world to influence us over how God would lead us to choose. God teachers us in Ezekiel, chapter 11, verses 1-12, from the time we entered the Promised Land, the Israelites were warned not to copy the customs and religious practices of other nations. Disobeying this command always led to trouble — then and now.
Read: Ezekiel 11: 1-12
Following the crow, or being a "sheeple" as I prefer to call them, might very well save you the hassle of being ridiculed and might even make you popular temporarily, but it will not save you from the consequences when making the wrong choice. Think about it this way, "Is anything (popularity, a relationship with the person of your dreams, or money) worth the price of your soul?
Read: Matthew 16:26
So as we go on in this earthly life and are faced with choices big and small, let us always remember to call upon the LORD before we ever decide. We can always make the best choices, but only if we, on purpose, trust God and seek His advice first in all things.