|Volume 22 Number 5 May 2020||
With the abundance of information in the news and on social media of late surrounding the coronavirus, a great debate also wages concerning the freedoms imposed on by the government, especially in America. I have no intention here of discussing my political views on the subject. However, the debates and arguments on this topic of freedoms has brought to mind a spiritual application that deserves consideration.
The Freedom to Choose
Since the beginning of time, God has always allowed man to make his own choices. Adam and Eve were given instructions about the available food in the Garden of Eden, and it was up to them to make the right choices when picking fruit to eat (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-6). The people of Noah’s day had the choice to repent after hearing Noah preach as he built the ark (Genesis 6; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5). Daniel and his three friends had choices to make while in captivity (Daniel 1:3-21; 3:1-18; 6:3-11). Jonah had a choice to make when given an assignment by God (Jonah 1:1-3). Joshua presented one of the best-known choices to the Israelite nation as it prepared to enter the Promised Land. “Choose ye this day” (Joshua 24:15). Many examples of men and women making choices abound in the New Testament, also. Consider the choices presented to the men Jesus called to be His apostles (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9; 10:1-4; John 1:43-51), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), Pilate at the trial of Jesus (Mark 15:1-15), the three thousand on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-38) and Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), just to name a few.
We make choices every day in our lives. Some choices, like what we eat for breakfast or which color socks to wear, have minimal impact on our lives. Other choices impact our lives not just for the day but have the potential to impact our eternity.
The Responsibility to Choose Wisely
Have you ever bought an item because you saw a commercial for it? Did the commercial include a recommendation from a famous entertainer or athlete? The people around us—in person, on social media or other venues—influence our choices every day. In the same way, we are an influence on those who view us and our lives. We have a responsibility to choose wisely so our influence will bring glory to God (Matthew 5:13-16).
Just as the Bible is filled with examples of men and women making choices, it is also filled with examples of those choices having both positive and negative influences. King Ahab did evil by his own choices, but his wife Jezebel (one of his many bad choices) “stirred him up.” She greatly influenced his evil choices (1 Kings 1:25-26). In Acts 5:1-10, one reads of a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira. He lied to the apostles, and his wife did the same a little later. God created marriage so a man and a woman could help each other (Genesis 2:18-24). Ephesians 5:28 tells husbands to love their wives. Wives are told to respect and love their husbands (Ephesians 5:23; Titus 2:4). Husbands and wives have a God-given responsibility to make wise choices in order to have a positive influence on their spouses (1 Peter 3:1-7).
Parents must choose wisely in the rearing of their children. Proverbs 22:6 instructs parents to teach their children. The Israelites of old were instructed on the importance of teaching the children about the Lord.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 12)
Unfortunately, the Israelites did not heed God’s instructions. Joshua’s generation did not diligently teach the next generation. Judges 2:7, 10 explain that after Joshua and his generation died, God’s people turned away from Him. Many generations later, the prophet Hosea would write, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6). The Israelites had a responsibility to instruct their children about the Lord, but they made choices that hurt the nation for generations to come. The Israelites portray a stark contrast to the mother and grandmother who instilled great faith in Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5) and Hannah who gave her son back to God (1 Samuel 1).
The Bible provides many other examples of parents making unwise choices regarding their children. Consider Isaac and Rebekah playing favorites (Genesis 25:28), Eli who did not discipline his sons (1 Samuel 3:10-14) and David’s chaotic family relationships (1 Kings 1:6; 2 Samuel 13; 15:6).
Make Wise Choices
Much more could be said, and many examples given of individuals making choices, wise and unwise. Many of our choices will impact our influence on those around us. However, the most important choice we will ever make, and continue to make, will impact us personally. God gave us the freedom to choose to obey Him or to not obey Him. While the consequences of most of our choices have a short-term impact, if we choose not to obey God, the impact is eternity away from God in hell (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Read the New Testament to find out how to obey God. With the freedom of choice comes the responsibility to choose wisely. Your soul depends on it.
Martha Lynn Rushmore
How would you build a house? Would you build on sandy ground or on solid ground? A foolish man builds his house on the sand. The wise man builds his house on a rock, a solid foundation. We are told in Matthew 7:23-26 to build on a firm foundation.
How would you build your house—everything all at one time or one stone, brick or board at a time? When building a physical house, we want it to be on a firm foundation. We should want the same with our spiritual house.
When we become Christians, we build our lives one step at a time on Jesus and His Word. Jesus is our standard—not anyone or anything else. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to imitate him as he imitated Christ. This is how we build a house on a solid rock. Let us build our houses on the Rock of our salvation.
We are to build our lives on Jesus and His Word. Jesus is the pattern to be followed, just as a builder has a blueprint to erect a house. If the plans are not followed exactly, the dwelling will not come out right. If we do not follow the plan of salvation as has been set before us in the Scriptures, we will not be saved. The pattern is to hear the Word of God (Romans 10:17), to believe it (John 8:24), to repent of our sins (Luke 13:3, 5), to confess Christ as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10) and to be baptized into His death, burial and resurrection for the remission of sins (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 2:38). Then lastly, we are to remain faithful (Revelation 2:10). If we do not follow this blueprint that God has set before us, we will fail. One’s house will be built on the sand. It will not stand the storms of time. If we follow the Word of God, then the house will be able to withstand any storm that is put before us.
Jesus is the firm foundation as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. He is the Chief Cornerstone. If we reject Him as our Chief Cornerstone, our lives will surely collapse (1 Peter 2:6-7). Without Jesus and the Word of God, there is no solidness in our lives. We need Him to complete our lives. Since our goal is eternal life, we must follow the Word as God has instructed.
We all have one date we will keep. It does not matter if we die or if we are still alive when Christ returns, we will stand before our Judge on the Day of Judgment. Since we are not robots, we have been given a choice of which road to take (Matthew 7:13-14) as we decide where to build our house. If we choose the broad path that leads to destruction, we will be building on the sand. This means we have not obeyed God’s Word. We then will hear, “Depart from me you who work iniquity” (Luke 13:27). Also, Matthew 25:41 says, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (NKJV). Unfortunately, we will reap eternal punishment if we build a spiritual house on the broad way to destruction. Do we really want to hear these awful words from our Judge on the Judgment Day? If not, get off the broad path. I don’t want to be on this path and build my house on the sand. I also do not want anyone else to hear these terrible words. So, let us all make the right choice.
Jesus wants us to choose the narrow path that leads to our heavenly home. If we do this, we will hear the sweet words of our Judge Jesus say, “Enter in thou into the joys of thy Lord, thou good and faithful servant.” According to Matthew 25:34, Jesus will say, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” This is my prayer and my desire for all in the Day of Judgment to hear these wonderful Words of our Lord. So, let us all make the right choice and build our houses on the Rock. “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).