God has allowed each one of us the power to choose. In His sovereignty He refuses to deny us that ability. The unrestrained power to choose can ultimately lead to immeasurable good or irreversible harm. Nonetheless, for better or for worse, the choice is ours.
I have a long history full of both good and poor choices. Probably, so do you! If we are wise, we will learn from both our successes and failures. My life is colored by the effects of choices I’ve made regarding finances, health, relationships and a multitude of other areas.
It is often the little choices that lead to bigger decisions with even greater consequences. Little things form big habits of conduct that result for the better or for the worse.
“This day…I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
and that you may love the LORD your God,
listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”
Moses is wanting the people to realize how serious the power to choose inevitably is.
Life or Death
If the consequences of our choices were instant, perhaps we would learn quicker and be wiser when it comes to decision making.
“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest —
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
Do you notice how it is “a little” of this and “a little” of that, that leads to something seriously alarming? That little extra may not seem like much in the moment. Over time though, a pattern of behavior develops that leads either down a path of destruction or up to God.
Many people are bound by addiction. None of them sought such an ending. Usually, it started with a little taste, a small whiff, or a sneak peak. All too soon, an unbreakable habit leads to brokenness, regret and even torment.
My consistent prayer over our family has been, “Lord, don’t let us get away with anything. May we face the consequences of our sin quickly and soundly.” We can be lulled into apathy and indifference when we think, in even a small way, we are getting away with something contrary to God’s perfect will.
Blessings and Curses
When I flip back a couple chapters in Deuteronomy, I see the promises of blessing God has waiting for those who seek to obey Him with all their hearts. Blessings such as overcoming enemies, gaining prosperity, open heavens and receiving promotion. The extensive list invites us to revel in God’s goodness and grace.
“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
the fruit of your womb will be blessed,
and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock
— the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be bless when you come in
and blessed when you go out.”
I have lived in the city and in the country, farmed land, raised livestock and enjoyed abundance. Yes, hard work was involved. All success was entirely the result of God’s blessing, however. Yet, there were also seasons, when my heart was equally fixed upon God and devastation seemed to loom everywhere.
This same chapter that speaks of the blessings of obedience also contains the negative consequences of turning away from God. God warns that the power to choose goes both ways — blessings and curses, better and worse.
Moses presented the truth, honestly and sincerely. Now everyone who heard was released to weigh their own actions in the balance of God’s standard. God isn’t wanting to allow harm to come our way. He lovingly invites us to Himself.
“Now choose life, so that you and your children my life…
The LORD is your life
and He will give you many years in the land…”
I wish I could have been there to hear the intonation in Moses’ voice and catch a glimpse of his expression. The gift of life, a life that would affect generations, was being extended freely and fully.
I can hear that same offer repeated by Jesus,
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.”
We see again the power to choose and the results of that choice.
When we wisely exercise the power to choose, “extra” benefits come along:
“Now choose life, so that …
you may love the LORD your God,
listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”
The road of life is littered with relational corpses of poor choices. That “thing” we mess with may not result in instant death, but every act of disobedience drains life from us in one way or another. God’s gift of choice affects not just us but everyone around us as well.
More than anything, our choices affect our relationship with God. I am foolish if I believe I can walk in disobedience to God and still maintain intimate relationship with Him. My power to choose will either open my heart to hear clearly from Him or cause dullness to cloud my perception. A little compromise here and a little more there is the outward evidence of how much or how little I am “hold(ing) fast” to Him.
Sadly, others can see the outcome of my choices long before I do. Sometimes my willful blinding to God’s truths causes dullness in my mind. At other times, I have stepped off course in innocence or ignorance. The reasons my vary but the results are consistently damaging.
Power to Choose
God will never take away our power to choose. His heart rejoices when we exercise that gift of grace to turn to Him in wholehearted love and devotion. At other times, He grieves as we turn and go our own direction.
Love propels God to release us to our own destinies. His love invites us to choose wisely.
At the end of Joshua’s tenure as leader, he declares his stance:
“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
but as for me and my household,
we will serve the LORD.”
The principle of the power to choose life or death flows through the pages of the bible from Genesis to Revelation. Today, I simply add my little voice to the mighty voices of multiple others, “choose life.” For in choosing life, we also make the choice to love, listen and hold fast to the things of God.