“Behold, today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse— the blessing, if you listen to and obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to and obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following (acknowledging, worshiping) other gods which you have not known.
In His explanation of the benefits of following His law, it’s as if God is saying, “You have a choice. You can have a thousand dollars in cash or a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Which one do you want?” Sadly, the history of the children of Israel is that they often chose the poke in the eye. We look at this choice and we think, “How could anybody make the wrong decision? It looks so clear!” But they did, and quit often, so do we.
God has made Himself abundantly clear, but like Eve in the Garden, we question His motives, His authority, and His purposes. Satan came to Eve and asked, “Did God really say not to eat of that tree?”(Genesis 3:1) The correct answer, of course, was, “Yes, but He gave us all the rest of these, and that’s plenty!” But the subtle questioning of God’s authority and goodness was enough to drive a wedge into Eve’s heart. Doubt grew, and she walked away from God.
In the same way, we experience temptations every day to doubt God’s goodness and His central place in our lives. We think having sex with that person sounds really good, and nobody will ever know. Blowing off this responsibility won’t hurt anybody. Lying about that person may help us get the promotion, and he wasn’t going anywhere anyway. Having one more toy won’t hurt anything. Another double cheeseburger and large fries? What can it hurt? But all these thoughts (and countless others, great and small) cast doubt on God and question the benefits of obedience.
We face big choices every day. Each one may seem small, but together, they are steps in a direction toward God or away from Him, toward wonderful blessings or in the direction of painful curses. It’s our choice.
There is no failure in God’s will, and no success outside of God’s will.
George W. Truett
When God created humanity, He gave us the most daring and incredible gift one could ever be given. When we read the story of Genesis, many of think that the Garden with all its blessings and benefits was the great gift God gave to Adam and Eve. It’s hard to imagine being given such a place to live for it was a place that had everything good and nothing bad. It was a place of peace and joy and delight. Never once did sorrow, suffering, disease, want, or death enter that place. Most of think that if God would place us in such a place, that would be the greatest gift we could ever have. And God could have insured that it would never change. Instead, He chose to give humanity the greatest gift and everyone has been given this gift- the gift of choice. In that place, where everything we could imagine good was given, God placed an option. Among the multitude of fruit-bearing trees stood a single tree- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And of all the trees there, this was the only one that Adam and Eve were to leave alone. Maybe you’ve wondered why God would have done such a thing but you can’t give choice unless there’s options. The true choice that day and it’s still the same choice every human is given- is the choice between God and Satan. It’s the crossroads of choosing right or choosing wrong. It’s the place of following God and following the world. Choice- what a great gift and what a great responsibility for with the gift of choice comes the responsibility and consequences.
The day that Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, to ignore God’s instructions, the consequences of that choice brought the destructive power of sin into their lives and into the world. One thing we must be aware of is that no one is an is an island and our choices affect not only us but those around us and quite often generations to come. Scripture says that the impact can be felt as much as four generations later. The lie of the world and the devil is to convince us that it’s our life, our choice, and it’s no one else’s business and that might be true if it was just us on a deserted island. If we have family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors, our choices affect a wider circle than sometime we may be aware.
Now that we’ve established that each of us have been given choice, we must then figure out how we can insure that we are making good choices. Can we trust our hearts? That’s one of the instructions we hear today, “Follow your heart, and you will always make the right decision.” That sounds good but it makes a big assumption- and far too often a false one- that our hearts are innately good. The Bible actually tells us the opposite:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick;Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?”
Another piece of advice is to listen to the experts and follow their counsel and again that sounds good until we realize that they are flawed human beings with imperfect ands incomplete information. I know there is more than one of us who can testify that we followed the advice of what we believed to be a trustworthy person only to discover that they led us wrong even if it was unintentionally.
I suppose we could use the Internet forums or social media groups or reviews or a host of other sources to assist us making good decisions but Wikipedia isn’t always accurate. Hopefully we have parents or grandparents that we can use as a source of sound advice. Truthfully most of these sources are like the weather forecasters- sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong. It’s one thing to get wet because we trusted the wrong advice, it’s another thing altogether to make a wreck out of our lives because we listened to poor counsel.
The amazing thing about God is that when He gave us the incredible gift of choice, He also gave us another gift to help us make good choices. He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirt who will guide us and teach us and when necessary convict us and correct us.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you and will be in you. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; about judgment [the certainty of it], because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged condemned. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear [to hear] them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]. He will glorify honor Me, because He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Because of this I said that He [the Spirit] will take from what is Mine and will reveal it to you.”
John 14: 16-17, 26, John 16: 7-15
Facing a choice, maybe a big one or perhaps even a small one, and want to make the best decision? Tap into God’s greatest gift- the Holy Spirit and ask Him to instruct, guide and give wisdom and you just may discover that your choices turn out better than you’ve ever experienced before. Don’t let fear or fear of failure keep you indecisive. You have a source that eclipses all the knowledge and wisdom stored in the greatest memory banks in the world. You have the Third Person of the Trinity- the Holy Spirit who knows everything and can do anything if you will just seek Him.
Don’t feel you even know where to begin or even the first step to take or not even enough to ask a question? Ask the Holy Spirit for help and Paul tells us this in Romans:
“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will.”
We can make good choices if we choose to seek the best counsel and I know none better than God Himself.
Dr. John Thompson