The Right to Choose

By Mason Harris

As the ancient Israelites were making their way from Egypt to Canaan, God gave them a law to regulate their conduct. Then he added: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God . . . and a curse if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God” (Dent. 11:26-28). Their destiny, whether a blessing or a curse, a success or a failure, would be determined by their action resulting from their choice as to whether to obey or not to obey. Choice determines action; action determines destiny.

To every man is given the power of choice. From infancy to old age, this process of choosing, with acceptance on one hand and denial on the other, continues. With a limited amount of time, we cannot be, or do, everything. We are constantly faced with a decision as to how we will use our time. Every day we have to make a choice of what is offered on the market. We cannot have the whole world, no more than a youngster with his dime can buy all the candy in the store. This is one of life’s great lessons. The ability therefore to make wise decisions is of the utmost importance.

It will always be helpful to us if we can determine in advance what the ultimate result of our decision will be. For example, the Israelites knew that the ultimate result of disobedience would be a curse. So the real question was: Will the immediate benefits and pleasures of disobedience be great enough to offset or justify the end result?

In making this more realistic to us, the apostle Paul shows that we have a choice of sowing to the flesh or to the spirit. Now in reaching a decision as to which we will do, let us see if we can determine the end result of each. The further states that he who sows to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but lie that sows to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. So the real question is: Will the immediate pleasures of sowing to the flesh be worth the corruption which will be suffered as an end result? And what of the end result of sowing to the spirit? Will life everlasting be worth depriving ourselves of fleeting earthly pleasures for a little while? Is there any question about what a wise choice would be in this case?

British or French?

When liberal-minded brethren indict lovers of the truth for exposing digression, I am reminded of the German officer who declared that the British are gentlemen but the French are not. Asked what he meant, he explained: “During the military occupation of Germany, some soldiers led by a British and a French officer came to the barracks of which I had charge. They said they had reason to believe that I had violated the terms of the peace treaty by concealing some rifles behind a brick wall. I denied this, saying, ‘I give you my word of honor as a German officer that there are no rifles concealed there.’ The British officer was a gentleman. He accepted my word and went away. But the French officer was not a gentleman. He would not accept my word of honor. He pulled down the wall and took away my rifles.”

Some brethren become incensed because for the scripturalness of their practices. When the practices are examined and exposed as digressions, the lovers of truth are accused of jealousy, viciousness, meddling and, to say the least, of not being gentlemen. Some have been deterred from contending for the faith by these tactics. However, we need to be more concerned with the welfare of the church and pleasing God than we are with our reputation among those who “go onward and abide not in the teaching of Christ” (2 John

9). David Harkrider

June 21, 1973