Jump Start # 2722
Joshua 24:15 “If it disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Our passage today is well known and well loved by those who are familiar with the Bible. Joshua tells the nation to choose. His choice was already made. He was staying with the Lord. And, with this verse we give some thought to the idea of choices. Sometimes we make bad choices. We make a promise that we cannot keep. We do not read the fine print when we sign our name to an important document. We decide to reveal something that was told to us in confidence. Choices.
There are four principles we need to remember about choices.
First, we have the liberty to make any choice we want, but we do not get to choose the consequences that follow those choices. A person can drink alcohol until he passes out. Many do that. That’s his choice. He doesn’t have to do that, but he does. Now, he is not at liberty to choose the consequences that come from drunkenness. He may wake up sick and with the worst headache of all time. That follows drinking. He may lose his job, his driver’s license, his reputation, and he might even spend a night in jail. You can choose anything you want, but you cannot choose what follows.
Second, our minds can justify anything our hearts really want. This is true even of things that are wrong. In our minds we find a way to make the wrong look right. Here is a person who does not have a Biblical reason for a divorce, yet he gets one. Later he finds the love of his life. He can’t get married, not according to the Bible. But he wants to. Now, he finds ways to make this right. His first wife was a witch, he says. She was abusive, mean and threatening. The truth is, he really wants to get married again. Nothing is going to stop him, including the Bible or what folks say down at the church house. He paints a picture that makes him look like a hero and he tries to gather up sympathizers and supporters to his cause. His mind has justified what his heart wants.
Third, one bad decision often leads to more bad decisions. David’s adultery with Bathsheba is a classic illustration of this. The first bad decision was calling for Bathsheba to come to his palace. Then to cover up the pregnancy, he brought her husband from the warfront and got him drunk. Bad decision. When that didn’t work the way he wanted it to, he sent him back to the front lines with orders for the troops to withdraw so he would be killed. The list of wrongs keeps growing and growing. Once the door of bad decisions has been opened, more and more are likely to follow. This is true of lying. A second lie has to be told to cover the first lie. One bad decision often leads to more bad decisions.
Before we get to the final principle about choices, we ought to notice that there is a pattern of not thinking spiritually, Biblically or godly running through these first few principles. The reason one bad decision often leads to more bad decisions is that the person is not thinking spiritually. He is only thinking of himself. He is trying to cover up bad choices and to do that he makes more bad choices. And, when our minds are not focused upon the Lord, we will justify anything we want.
So, all of this tells us that we need to be thinking better than what we have. And, this is done by what we allow our minds to dwell upon and what we are pouring into our hearts. Paul said let the word of Christ richly dwell within you. When that happens, it will shape and direct our thinking. Bad choices will be stopped, confessed and changed rather than leading to more and more bad choices. I wonder if we have spent too much time telling young people to make the right choices when we have not gotten them to think right. The foundation of right choices is a mind and heart that loves the Lord and wants to please the Lord.
Fourth, the final principle about choices is that God can use us even after we have made bad choices. Peter shows us this. He rebuked the Lord. He had little faith. He denied the Lord. However, God wasn’t finished with Peter. God was willing to give Peter another chance. Jesus trusted Peter with the wonderful Gospel message of His life. God will give us another chance when others will not. People will remember your bad choices. Some will remind you of them over and over again. But God is not like this. He will find a place for you to be useful in His kingdom. He will forgive you and help you.
Choose you this day—boy, that sums up a person’s day. Every day choices. Do I even get out of bed? Do I go to work? Do I do my job? Do I walk through the day with a cheerful and joyful spirit? Do I complain or give thanks? Do I worship or not? Do I follow or not? Do I become or not?
Choices…every single day. Big choices and little choices. Some choices do not matter much and are soon forgotten. Other choices are big and can alter my direction in life. The worst choice one can make is to live without Jesus. You can ignore Him, but He will never forget you. You can deny His existence, yet, He will still love you.