“MAKING RIGHT CHOICES”                                 By Pastor YAU

Deuteronomy 30:15-20                                               January 21, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   You may not know this: You may not have heard the name John Wilkes Booth. He was the man who assassinated President Lincoln in 1865. You may not have heard that John had a brother Edwin Booth. Edwin was the man who pulled a young man out of the rail tracks at a train station to save his life. That young man was Robert Lincoln, son of President Lincoln. Shortly after that, Edwin’s brother, John, killed the president. The irony is the fact that the man who saved the life of the president’s son had a brother who would soon take the life of the president.

2)   You certainly know this: And that is you have the right to make your own choices. The right to make our own choice is very important to the dignity of life. Just imagine what kind of life it could be if we lose that right and someone else makes all decisions for us. That is why “freedom of choice” is part of the US Constitution. But freedom of choice comes with the consequence of it: every choice we make will bring consequence and we have to face it. Some consequences are more serious than others, like those made by the Booth brothers: one chose to take a life and became the ugliest name in American history while the other chose to save a life and became an American hero.

 

THE BEAUTY OF FREEDOM OF CHOICE: 

1)     It reflects the divine natural of man: When God created man, He created him in His own image and nature and one of them is the “free will” to make choices. In His infinite wisdom, God did not created men as robots completely under His control. He gave man the freedom to make his own choices, decisions. Therefore, freedom has become the symbol of man’s dignity. Revolutions were inspired, wars were waged, books were written and sermons were preached to encourage, to debate or to define, to promote or to preserve the freedom God has given to all of us. It is this freedom that reflects the divine nature God has given only to man, the crown jewel of His creation.

2)     It sets man apart from all other creations:  In so many ways, man was created like animals: a body, a brain, a digest system and all the physical needs: food, rest, water, air, etc. Many animals even have the ability to make choices but most of the choices they made are conditioned or dictated by their instincts and natural needs. But God has given man the “free will” to make his choices, even the free will to choose if he wants to be saved. God may provide the environment, the opportunity and the support system, but He will never force anyone to choose what man doesn’t want. Man acts totally on his own freedom to choose his path and destiny. That is why no one may predict the path and destiny of another person.

3)     It brings man into the moral world: Attached to the gift of freedom of choice, God installed in man the sense of morality, right from wrong and good from bad. God created in man something we called “conscience.” This conscience may not dictate or control man to do right, but it will “tell” man when he has done wrong. This is the beauty of freedom of choice because it is never meant to be “free without boundary.” This balancing force keeps man from getting too far from what God intends for man to do. Even to those who may be so fearful that no one is dare to confront them the conscience God created in them continues to guide them to know the truth.

4)     It energizes man’s creativity: When men are free to think, to make his own plans, to develop his potential, to use his creative ability, the sky is the limit for him to grow and to achieve. The fact we see the development of culture, technology, sciences and many other inventions and adventures, these are all possible because men are free to do what they can. Freedom of choice and its potentials are often times choked by the environment, especially political system. That is why free countries are usually more developed and have higher material resources.

5)      

THE DANGER OF FREEDOM OF CHOICE: All good things come with hidden often time adverse side effects. Same applies to the exercise of the freedom of choice. Here are some of the common dangers we need to pay attention to when we use freedom of choice.

1)    Not all choices are beneficial: “I am free to do all things but not all things (I am free to do) are beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 6:12a) These are words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. In this 6th chapter, Paul was trying to explain the “new freedom in Christ” to the early Christians. They were liberated from the yoke of laws and traditions of man by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are “free” to do all things. But Paul cautioned them to consider the effects of their new found freedom: if the things they do in this freedom are beneficial to them, to people around, to God’s glory, to the church, the society, to their family and everyone else. No one should choose to do things that may hurt or damage or inflict suffering on themselves or others even if they are free to do so. Freedom is never a license to do whatever you want.

2)    Not all choices are free: “I am free to do all things but I will never be controlled by any power.” (6:12b) Human beings are habitual beings: we form habits in doing things. Some habits are worse than others and we need to be very careful in choosing what habits we may form by doing things. Habit is an invisible power of control Paul used the word “master”. Yes, we are free to choose what to do, but we are not free when the things we do becomes our masters that control us. You may list 20 or 50 things seemingly with little or no harm such as gossip a little or go to Tunica to gamble a few times. If you don’t control your freedom, soon you will be controlled by that desire that will surely tarnish your character and destroy your career and family.

3)    Not all choices will build up: “I am free to do all things, but not all things (I am free to do) are constructive (building me up).” (1 Corinthians 10:23b) In this 10th chapter, Paul tried to encourage the early Christians to grow in their spiritual capacity, to build up their testimony among the non-believers so Christ may be honored through their life. They were responsible to themselves and to others in God’s family to grow more like Christ. So, when exercising freedom of choice, Paul wanted them to consider if that will help them build their faith and character. Is freedom important? Yes. But building or growing our Christian faith and character in this world to glorify God and bring others to Christ is more important than our personal freedom. If our freedom tears down the glory of God or hurts the name of Christ, we need to stop there. We are not free to tear down God and His name.

4)    Not all choices lead to the same destiny: (Matt. 7:13-14) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” Jesus offered his listeners two choices of life and destiny. He lay out the condition of the choices and the consequences to those who make the choice. We need to be careful about our choices and the different ending they lead to.

 

SERIOUS CHOICES WE NEED TO MAKE: At the end of his life, Moses, the most beloved and revered man of God, gave his final sermon to the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. From chapter 6 all the way to chapter 30, Moses gave the longest sermon ever. (Please do not complain that your pastor is too long winded. OK?) At the conclusion of his message, Moses gave these warnings on making choices and their consequences: Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Here I want you to see a few important principles that may help you exercise your freedom of choice.

1)   It’s a choice of life or death: (30:15) “Now I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” Often times, we will listen to good advices and agree that we need to follow. But how many times you will see good advices from the Bible as matters of life and death or prosperity and destruction? We usually take God’s word of warning too lightly as they are not that serious or important but they are. We all love to seek life and prosperity instead of death and destruction. God has promised us the sure way to achieve our goals by obeying His commands. It is not a matter of freedom of choice; it is about life and death in our choices. Few may really die because of not obeying God’s commands, but many have suffered destruction of all kinds by ignoring God’s teaching.

2)   It’s a choice of what you love: “For I command you today to love the Lord your God and to walk in His ways…and you will live and increase and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” (30:16) We all love to be blessed by God, to live and to increase. But how often do we truly believe that to achieve all these can be done by love God and walk in His ways? Most of us have our own objects of love and God is seldom on the top of the list. How much you love God reflects on how much you walk or live your life in His ways, not your ways. Jesus told His disciples that “whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) Obeying God and live in His way is what God has asked of us.

3)   It’s a choice of whom you worship: “But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them. I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.” (30:17-18) This is about your loyalty and object of worship. God wants you to choose Him as your object of loyalty and worship. When we make choices of people and things that occupy our hearts, get most of our attention and become objects of our loyalty, they become invisible gods in our hearts. When this happens, there is no place for God in us and that is the end of our relationship with Him. When God got pushed out of our lives, the end result is certain destruction. The choice is yours. How much room is there in your heart that is for God?

4)   It’s a choice affecting others: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life and that you and your children may live.” (30:19) With very little exceptions, our choices will affect more than just us but people around us, especially our loved ones, family, children, etc. If you don’t care the consequence on yourself, you need to know that there will be consequences on those whom you love, family and children. Give them a chance to live and prosper by making the right choices for you and for them.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Treasure the privilege: Freedom of choice is a precious gift of God we need to treasure and be thankful of. There are many people in many lands who do not have the kind of freedom we have. We also need to be thankful of the freedom from sin brought to us by our Lord Jesus Christ with His blood. We have been set free from the power of Satan and sin when we accept the Lord into our hearts.

2)   Preserve the privilege: Freedom of choice may push us into trouble and destruction if we do not follow proper guidelines set in the word of God. Learn from God’s instruction on how to use freedom and follow the rules carefully that it will bring you prosperity and life.

3)   The most important choice: And that is the choice of eternal life through your faith in the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to enter your heart and become the Lord of your life. You will receive many blessings in this life and the life to come.