By Frank Jamerson
Man has no choice but to choose! We are by nature creatures of choice and there is no way to live in this world without making choices.
Joshua challenged the Israelites to “fear the Lord, serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil unto 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” (Josh. 24:14,15). Some kind of choice was inevitable. Joshua did not say “make a choice or remain neutral,” for that was impossible. Furthermore, Joshua could not make the choice for them. He really could not make it for his family, but he could lead them in making the right choice.
When people try to get us to make right choices they are not taking away our power to choose. Ultimately, each one must answer for himself. God said, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself ” (Ezek. 18:20). In verses 5-13 of this chapter, Ezekiel discussed the fact that a righteous father may have a wicked son; then in verses 14-18, he discussed the wicked father having a righteous son. In both cases, the blame or credit was given to the one who made the choice. Others may influence our choices but each is accountable to God for his own decisions.
In man’s determination to pass the blame, he may say, “I couldn’t help it; I had no other choice,” but that is not the truth. A person who is tempted to drink has at least three choices. He may submit to the temptation, refuse to drink, or tell others that they should not be drinking and urge them to stop. The person who is tempted to commit fornication has several choices. He can flee the scene. (While I was in Romania, a young man said that if you are alone with a girl in her home and she begins to take off her clothes, that is not a good time to preach to her! It is time to get out!) He can tell the person that he “cannot sin against God,” as Joseph did (Gen. 39:9), or he can give in to the temptation. Every temptation demands a choice.
Before we choose, we should also consider the possible consequences of that choice. The power to choose does not mean that we have the power to choose the consequences of the choice! A person who jumps from an eight story building has very little choice about the consequences. When Moses looked at the choices and consequences, he choose to suffer with God’s people (Heb. 11:24-26). When Joseph considered the consequences of adultery, he chose to run. I am sure that Moses’ mother would have been proud of her son’s choice, and surely Joseph’s parents would have been pleased with his choice, but each had to make his own choice. Parents cannot make moral choices for their children, neither can children make the choices for their parents.
The power of choice is a God-given right. No man can take it away from us. We may hurt, or please others by our choices but ultimately the choices as well as the consequences are personal.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 2 p. 20
January 19, 1995