Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Transforming Our Choices

Henry Blackaby in his book Created to be God's Friend wrote; "We are free to make the choice, but not free from the consequences of the choice." Think about that statement.  One the one hand it is wonderful because it means we have the freedom to live the way we want to live, but on the other hand it is terrible because it means we are responsible for our choices.

We have the wonderful freedom to make our own decisions. God has not programmed us to respond to certain stimuli in a certain way. Instead He created us with a free will, the ability to choose. We can choose between McDonalds and Burger King, the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers, and even between what is right and what is wrong. We have free will to make these types of decisions.

This is a wonderful freedom God has granted to us, but as wonderful as it is free will is also full of danger. If we make our own choices that means we are responsible for what happens because of those choices. 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 is concerned with the way we think.  In Romans 12:2 Paul wrote; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (ESV).  If we are conformed to the world's way of choosing and deciding then we will continue to fall short of God's will.  It is only when our minds are transformed that we are able to make the right choices which enable us to be the people God created us to be.

To aid us in the transformation of our minds God has provided us with Truth.  This Truth provides us with the solid foundation from which we are able to make correct decisions. If we are willing to obey God and follow the path that He has laid out for us we will have to learn to rely on the wisdom that we discover on the pages of the Bible, and thus discover that our lives are built on a solid foundation. If we insist on doing our own thing and making choices determined by what we think is best we will find that the foundation of our lives is no better than sand.

Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with this teaching:

Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me 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 rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores 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 fall with a mighty crash (Matthew 7:24-27; NLT).

This is not a promise that Christians will not experience hardship in their lives, but it is a promise that during the hardships of life they will be able to stand strong. Why? A Christian is able to remain strong amidst the tragedies of life because they have the hope which comes from doing God's will and the hope that waits on God's promise to make everything new.  We discover these twin hopes on the pages of Scripture.

Poor and sinful choices led to bad and negative consequences. Think about the tragedy and hardship we could avoid in our lives if we would just be willing to follow Jesus. Women wouldn't have to worry about who are the fathers of their children, parents wouldn't have to suffer they loss of a child from a drug overdose, children wouldn't be put through the pain of a divorce, and diseases like AIDS would be virtually unheard of. Yet when we insist on building our lives on the sand of conformity to the world and refusing to follow Jesus we ensure that our lives will not stand the test of tragedies.

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 be able to experience good 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 not have to worry about the past catching up to us.  We will be able to live a life of purpose and hope.  Following Jesus creates a better life than following the ways of the world.

We have freewill, but that also means we are responsible for the consequences of our actions. Part of the Gospel is that God has not abandoned us to the hopelessness of this world. God has revealed Truth to us so we can have a solid foundation to build our lives upon and have the knowledge we need to transform our minds.  In the end it is possible for us to live lives that honor our Creator and Savior.


Liane said...

Very profound, Paul! It blessed me today. Wisdom - Godly wisdom - is indeed the most precious thing. It knows no age restriction and is free to anyone who desires it. We just have to ask. In my own life I've seen it change many things. I need to get back to asking for it again every single day. Where would I be without it?

I very much agree with the tragedy and hardship mentioned in the writing. What I struggle with is to not judge/condemn. Saying "I told you so" doesn't help anyone when the situation is done (e.g., a girl is already pregnant) but how sad that too few choose to build on the Rock. Even more sad how many blames God for their choices afterward. Sometimes I wonder what it must feel like to Him when that happens? Imagine a God who knows the hurt and pain of EVERY person, and there is so much of it in the world... Is there more of it than there is joy, peace, contentment? I wonder...

Paul Steele said...

A good thought. To build upon it, one of the ways we see God's power is how He takes our bad choices, as well as the hurt and struggles of our lives, and brings good out of them. Whenever we begin to follow Jesus means that we will begin to experience God's blessings more and more.

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