I am amazed sometimes by the myriad of choices placed before me each day. When I go to the store to buy toothpaste, do I want the super-white formula or the other one? Which is a better deal? When I go online to order a book, there are millions of choices. Which one should I choose?
Then there are those catalog-size restaurant menus. That is probably why I like places with an uncomplicated bill of fare, like In-N-Out Burger. The choices are simple: Double-Double, cheeseburger, hamburger, fries, shakes and beverages. It’s easy to decide what to order.
Settling on which toothpaste to buy or which book to read or what to have for lunch doesn’t have long-lasting repercussions, necessarily. But then there are other choices that are extremely important, like whom you will marry, what career path you will take and, most important of all, whether to follow Jesus Christ.
We could call it the three Cs of life: challenges, choices and consequences. Every day we have challenges. Next we have choices. And then we have the consequences of those choices.
Sometimes a challenge comes in the form of an opportunity we can take advantage of. At other times, a challenge comes in the form of a temptation that hopefully we will resist. Then there is the choice. Finally, there are the consequences. If we have made the right choice, there will be good consequences. But if we have made the wrong choice, there will be bad consequences. So we must make the right choices because it can affect the entire course of our lives.
The Bible provides us with examples of people who made right and wrong choices in life. Moses was taken into the home of Pharaoh and was being groomed to be the next leader of Egypt. Yet he walked away from it because he was a Jew and made the choice to help his fellow Jews. That choice saved a nation. Daniel’s choice not to compromise brought great hope and encouragement to so many.
There also were those in the Bible who made wrong choices. Adam’s choice cost him paradise. Esau’s choice cost him his birthright. King Saul’s choice cost him his kingdom. Judas’ choice cost him his apostleship and his very life. Pilate, Agrippa and Felix, all Roman leaders, made the wrong choice and missed eternity with Christ.
In the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the story of two men, Abraham and his nephew, Lot. Abraham was a godly man who made very good choices. Lot was a believer, but he was a compromising one at best and made some very poor choices. Their lives are presented to us side by side in Scripture so we can see the consequences of their choices.
The Bible describes Abraham as “a friend of God” (see James 2:23, NKJV). That is a unique description and a wonderful one at that. One day, God came to his friend, Abraham, and told him that he wanted Abraham to follow him. He also instructed Abraham to make a clean break with his family and others. Why? Because Abraham was in a pagan family that worshiped false gods. But Abraham had a hard time with that because he was attached to certain family members, especially Lot. So he brought Lot along. It would appear from the story that Abraham was like a father figure to Lot. So Abraham obeyed God, but only partially, and then he began to reap the consequences of that choice.
Then Abraham went down to Egypt because there was a famine in the land (see Genesis 12:10). In Scripture, Egypt is a metaphor for the world, that is, a culture apart from God. The Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15, NKJV). Abraham’s little compromise was going down to Egypt. It was a detour, and it was a bad idea because any step away from God is a step down. Ultimately, Abraham and his family left Egypt.
Maybe you are in a similar situation right now. Maybe you are facing a challenge and are tempted to compromise a little in this area or that area. When you decide to do what is right and live a life of integrity, you will never regret it. Leave it in the hands of God. The will of God is all that matters, and you must take a stand in the things that are really important.
As I have said before, you can have harmony with God and friction with people, or you can have harmony with people and friction with God. You choose. If you get along with everyone, and no one ever disagrees with you because you don’t take a stand on anything, then you will have friction with God. So take that stand, do it in the most loving way you can, and then watch what God will do.
Abraham gave up everything to follow God. He gave up his country. He gave up his people. He gave up some prime real estate in Canaan by giving Lot the first choice in the matter. Then he also lost Lot, whom he happened to have real affection for. Lot lifted up his eyes to see what the world had to offer, and God told Abraham to lift up his eyes and see what heaven had to offer.
Lot made the wrong choices and lived the wrong way, and he reaped the consequences. Abraham made the right choices and never regretted it.
We all choose what path our lives will take. God always will give his very best to those who leave the choice with him. I have come to discover that God’s ideas are better than mine, and God’s plans are better than mine. That is why I must trust him.
The choices of life are binding in eternity. We make choices today that will affect us forever. We make our decisions, and then our decisions make us.