BY DR. RICHARD D. DOBBINS
People are defined by the choices they make and the consequences of those choices. In fact, the Bible is a book about people like us whose choices determined their future. For example Adam and Eve, Cain, and Noah all made choices and lived with the consequences–good or bad.
Whenever the Bible talks about people and their choices, the Holy Spirit faithfully shares with us the negative consequences of their poor choices as well as the positive consequences of their wise choices. The “family portrait” of God’s family which the Bible presents shows the bad as well as the good and makes it clear that God gives us freedom to choose–but we have to live with the consequences of those choices.
So, along with the freedom to choose comes the responsibility for our choices. If we will allow Him, God will help us make wiser choices so that the consequences of our choices will give us a better life in Christ.
However, at times God lets us gain wisdom from the pain of poor decisions we make. So, good decisions are the product of wisdom. Wisdom is the product of experience. And experience is the product of poor
The choices we make as children shape our future and influence the decisions we will make as adults. It’s like laying bricks for the foundation of a building. You may be only a sixteenth of an inch off when you begin the wall, but if you don’t make some kind of correction, your error will compound with the length of the wall. This is how some people wreck their lives. They make small decisions that incrementally over time put them in a tragic set of circumstances.
And being indecisive can have its tragic consequences as well. Look at the man who received one talent in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. He became frightened that he might lose the one talent he had, so he dug a hole in the ground and hid it. For not investing it wisely he was severely punished.’
The passivity that cripples a person’s ability to make decisions often results from being criticized too severely and praised too seldom for the choices they made while growing up. This is what you will find
in the history of many adults who shy away from making decisions, and even refuse to face realities and emergencies in their lives that demand choices.
The secret to overcoming your fear of making choices is to realize that everyone’s life is full of risks. Not making choices carries an even greater risk. . . losing control of your life. Like any other skill, your ability to make good and wise decisions improves with practice. You learn from the pain of your poor decisions how to make better ones.
Look on life as an adventure. Face the daily risks. Learn from your right decisions as well as your wrong ones. Reflecting on the consequences of our choices not only helps us not to repeat our mistakes it increases the number of our wise decisions and the good consequences they bring.
One of the exciting things about choices is that, if our hearts are right with God, He can take even the unwise choices and mercifully turn them into something good. For example, I gave my heart to Christ
at the age of 15. When I was 17, I fell madly in love with my high school sweetheart and eloped. No one is ready for marriage at the age of 17. At 19, I was a father. Those simply were not wise choices. I would warn any young person of the painful consequences such decisions bring. Yet because our hearts were right with God and our attitudes were right, God made those decisions “work together for good.”2
This is not to encourage careless or unwise decisions. But, when you heart is right with God, even though decisions you make may not be wise, God is able to work together for your good and His glory. My wife
suffered a severe post partum depression after the birth of our first child, a son. For 6 months she was actively suicidal and made three unsuccessful attempts on her life. Yet, out of our pain was born my
vision for mental health ministry . . . EMERGE.
The mental process by which you make decisions is spirit-driven. There is a constant spiritual warfare being waged “between your ears” as Satan tries to distract you from making good decisions.
Choices are not made in a moral or spiritual vacuum. If you are God’s child, both the Lord and His enemy are bombarding your mind with urges, fantasies, and ideas. Knowing which of these comes from whom is
essential if you are going to express Christ’s life and deny expression to His enemy. Committing Scripture to memory will help you develop the necessary discernment for this task.
Jesus Christ has a wonderful future for you that the devil doesn’t want you to discover. Today your life may be a disaster because of the consequences of bad choices. But open your heart to Christ and He will help you discover creative ways of dealing with the crises in your life.
Ever since Adam and Eve, people have tried to make others responsible for their bad choices . . . tried to put the blame on others. Accepting the responsibility of your poor choices and their consequences is the only way a person can grow. Look at the life of Moses. Although he made the right choice in identifying with the Hebrew people of his parents, rather than the Egyptians, he didn’t always make wise choices. Remember, he slew an Egyptian who was oppressing the Hebrews. 3 When he was leading God’s people through the desert, Moses chose to disobey God by striking the rock for water when God told him
only to speaks. 4 And not even Moses was given immunity from the consequences of his bad decisions–the murder of the Egyptian cost him 40 years on the backside of the desert and striking the rock cost him
entrance into the Promised Land.
Wrong choices in small things are insignificant, but it’s important to seek God’s help for making the right decisions in the major things, the crossroads decisions of life. It would be wonderful if we always knew when we were making the life-changing, crossroads decisions. Unfortunately, that isn’t always true, but there are decisions we all face in life that we know are these kinds of major crossroads issues.
For example, whom we choose as our friends in junior and senior high is a crossroads decision. In high school our friends have more influence over us than our parents. This is why parents should monitor
their children’s friendships and not fear to direct them away from friends that will have a bad influence on them.
Certainly dating and marriage are key crossroads decisions. Young people need guidance and courage to keep sex reserved for marriage. Anytime that one engages in sexual behavior outside of marriage he/she
is not only disobeying God, but also complicating his/her life. Parents have a responsibility to help their children make godly choices in this crucial area of their lives. And, of course, along with dating and
marriage come important choices about having children and raising families.
Are you facing a major decision in your life right now? Jesus wants to meet you at that “crossroads” and help you look far enough down the road of your future to discover those options that represent His highest and best for your life.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, VOL. III, NO. 29. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.