How many choices have you made today? Maybe I should ask how many things have you done today without making a choice. We do have habits that can help us do routine things without a lot of thought, sometimes without making a conscious choice. Still you and I make hundreds of choices each day.
Think over some of the intentional choices you made today (ignoring habits). Do you know why you made the choices you did? Were they mostly a matter of personal preference? I don’t think all our “free choices” are simply what we prefer. Some may be the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Sometime we choose because other people influence us. Also, we make some choices because we care about our health or we care about other people. Often, though, we make choices on what we prefer. We choose what we like or what we want (or want to avoid).
The Bible takes seriously our ability and responsibility to make choices. God is all-powerful and wise, but He still gives us the right to make choices. The most important choice, of course, is how we will respond to God’s call to give our lives to Him. This mysterious combination of divine working and human response is a choice. God intends that this choice to follow Christ will be the basis of our choices after that.
So let’s go back to the top. Without nitpicking or becoming legalistic about our walk with Christ, how are you and I choosing this or that? How do we choose our activities, what we allow to enter our minds, what the attitudes we tolerate, what habits do we hold on to? More important, what is the basis for our choice? That question is important because, as one writer put it, choice is where we face the potential for sin. In so many instances what we choose and the reasons on which we make our choices tells us much about our walk with Christ.
We do make simple, inconsequential choices. I once met a man who prayed about what color socks he should wear. I didn’t laugh at him, but I doubt if that was most important choice he would make that day. More consequential choices you and I make include how we will use whatever spare time we have. On what basis will we choose what we to believe or to disbelieve in this gossipy “information” age? How will we choose whom we will trust? Even more important, we choose how we will look at and apply the clear teachings of scripture.
Can’t we simply live the way we prefer to live? Perhaps, but daily we have a host of people, movements, institutions that a bent on influencing our choices, on affecting our preferences. In person, via social media, through advertising and entertainment choices they push a position or agenda. They use polls to scream “this is what everybody thinks.” They use television sitcoms to insist gender issues are simply everyday realities which we need to tolerate. Cruelty, immorality, deceit are made attractive and interesting by “entertainment.” One result is such activities seem normal and every day. News outlets curate (sift, organize, present) what they think is important or what folks prefer to hear. All this is in order to get into our minds and souls.
This world is a socially, economically, psychologically manipulative world which “malforms” people into believing that right and wrong are a matter of perspective, upbringing, or education. Our world recognizes no absolutes but—for a time—will tolerate lifestyles lived in a particular way simply because folks just want to live that way. That’s you and me in the eyes of our world. The world’s view of us, though, isn’t the most important issue. When our choices are made primarily on the basis of personal preference rather than God’s truth, we have no basis for identifying sin in the world around us or for sharing the gospel