“We are free to make the choice, but not free from the consequences of the choice.” ~ Henry Blackaby, Created to be God’s Friend
When God created us He created us with the ability to make choices. This reality is a great freedom and it is a great responsibility. It is a great freedom because we can choose the direction of our lives. It is a great responsibility, because we cannot escape the consequences of our choices.
We can choose between McDonalds and Burger King, the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers, and between what is right and what is wrong. God has given us the freedom to make these type of choices. The freedom to choose means we are not destined to follow some prearranged script.
This is a wonderful freedom God gave to us, but as wonderful as it is, free will is also full of danger. The freedom of choice requires that we are also responsible for the results of those decisions. We will benefit from good choices and be hindered by bad choices. The path we are on in life is ultimately a path of our own design.
No wonder the apostle Paul was concerned with the way we think. In Romans 12:2 Paul wrote:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)
If we are conformed to the world’s way of making choices, then we will continue to fall short of God’s will. The way we become the people God created us to be is by having our minds transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the guidance of God, we will end up making poor choices.
The material that the Holy Spirit uses to transform our minds is truth. Scripture provides us with the truth we need to build a solid foundation for our lives. The truth found in the Bible is essential for making wise choices.
Because God created the universe and created people in His image, there is truth found in the world around us. That truth is often veiled or twisted as the result of sin. This reality makes the ways of the world unreliable. If we insist on doing our own thing and making choices based on what we think is best, then we will find that the foundation of our lives is no better than sand.
Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with this teaching:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27; NLT)
The promise implied in this passage is not that Christians, through wise living, will escape hardships. The promise is that Christians will be able to stand strong in the most difficult of circumstances. Why can a Christian be strong? A Christian is able to remain strong amidst the tragedies of life because they have the hope which comes form experiencing God as a reality in life, and they have experienced the truth found in Scripture.
Poor and sinful choices lead to bad and negative consequences. Think about the tragedy and hardship we could avoid in our lives if we would be willing to follow Jesus. Women wouldn’t have to worry about who the fathers of their children are because they would not have numerous sexual partners, parents wouldn’t have to suffer the loss of a child because that child would be wise enough not to take drugs, children wouldn’t be put through pain and confusion of divorce because their parents would be loving enough to stay married, and diseases like AIDS would be virtually unheard of because people would not engage in the behavior that helps them spread. When we ignore God’s wisdom we invite hardship and difficulty into our lives. Life would be much better if we made decisions based on the truth God has revealed to us.
It is also important to point out that when we follow the wisdom we discover in the Bible, our lives will turn out for the better. We will experience enriching relationships with friends and family. We will have the opportunity to hear people tell us, “Thank you,” for the difference we have made in their lives. We will be able to live a life of purpose and hope. We will not have to worry about the past catching up to us. When we follow Jesus we experience life at its best.