Choices And Their Consequences: Part 2

BY DR. RICHARD D. DOBBINS

 

There are many everyday decisions we face which are of minor consequence. But some can affect our future in significant ways. These I call major, or crossroads decisions. Here are some examples:

Using credit wisely. Maxing out your card at $1O,000 means you are making $1,800 a year in interest payments. Signing major purchase agreements and using your credit card are decisions that affect your financial freedom or bondage.

Rewarding and punishing Your children’s behavior. Determining the kinds of behavior you will punish or reward in your children are crossroads decisions that will have long-term effects on both them and you. Reward your children for things like being honest, responsible, and loyal. Punish them for being dishonest and irresponsible.

Career related moves and your family’s best interests. Deciding whether to take a promotion that will require you to relocate your family is another major decision. Often people don’t see this. They assume any promotion that brings an increased salary, new job title and attractive perks to be the will of God.

Pastors and other Christian leaders need to be especially careful about career moves. Often, pressure is put on the spouse and children to accept such an opportunity as the will of God. However, extreme pressure from loving family members to resist such a change should also be considered an important factor in determining God’s will. If things are going well with your children and your spouse, pray a long time and look way down the road before you make the kind of decision that would uproot them and move them to another part of the country

Many of our painful experiences result from failing to recognize major crossroads decisions at the time that we are making them. Then, when these decisions are made unwisely, some people don’t know how to deal with the painful consequences. Sometimes they become bitter at God for not canceling the natural consequences of these choices. But the Bible gives us numerous accounts of people who had to pay for impulsive, unwise decisions.

Read the account of King David lusting after Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11:2-12:24). Even though God called David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22), He did not spare David the negative consequences of murdering Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, and taking her as a wife. David suffered the loss of that first child.

Remember there are four “laws” of the harvest continually at work in our decision-making. These are summarized in this Scripture:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. “‘

LAW OF THE HARVEST 1: If you don’t sow, you won’t reap. What a lesson to ream! A lot of good preventive mental health end spiritual health comes just by knowing and abiding by this law. You never have to suffer from consequences of things you decide not to say or do.

LAW OF THE HARVEST 2: If you sow, you will reap. While God gives you the freedom of choice, He will not bless you with the miracle of a crop failure for your poor choices. Each of us is responsible for the choices we make. And every choice has consequences . . . some good–some bad!

LAW OF THE HARVEST 3: If you sow, you will reap what you sow. You don’t sow corn, then reap wheat Likewise if you sow “to the flesh, “you reap of the flesh; if you sow “to the Spirit, “you reap of the Spirit.

LAW OF THE HARVEST 4: If you sow, not only will you reap what you sow, but you will reap more than you sow. Jesus talked in His parables about reaping 30, 60-, 100-fold. This is tragic when you’re sowing to the flesh. But it’s wonderful when you sow to the Spirit. It comes back to you again end again end again–30-, 60-, 100-fold. Daily trusting the Lord to guide our decisions not only protects us from unnecessary pain, but also brings us great blessings.

If you are reaping a painful harvest of unwise and impulsive decisions, let the pain of the moment move you to open your heart to Jesus. Make Him the Lord of your decision-making process. You can count on Him to give you wisdom at the crossroads.

Some of our faith’s most difficult challenges come when things we didn’t plant crop up in our lives–when other peoples’ irresponsible decisions or the destructive forces of nature come crashing through our lives.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses natural storms to illustrate the experiences of life that test us all. He reminds us that those who know His teachings but fail to practice them are crushed by life’s storms, but those who do what He teaches find their faith to be stronger than the fury of the storm. The first group become bitter. The second group become better. Every life has storms. The choices we make determine how those storms affect us.

We create some or most of our own storms through unwise choices we make. But there is no way the wisest person in the world can be protected from all of life’s storms. Sometimes we wrongly blame ourselves for events in our lives not connected to any choices we have made. At other times, we are tempted to blame others who may or may not be responsible. Still, at other times we are tempted to blame God.

Placing blame for the storms in your life will not get you through them. God wants to help you get beyond your storms. When others obviously have wronged you, blame may need to be addressed legally. But even then, if you don’t want to drown yourself in bitterness, you must come to terms with the storm and move on.

Instead of blaming God or the devil, we are healthier to conclude that everyone goes through storms. But if we make Jesus Christ Lord of our thoughts and behaviors, He will make us stronger through our storms.

The storms of life illnesses and accidents–may take our loved ones from us, but not for long. Leaving this life doesn’t mean that they have perished. They are with the Lord. They enjoy a state of consciousness that is much more accelerated than we know! And one day there will be a joyful reunion!

Thankfully, through God’s grace and good counseling, when you are victimized by selfish marriage partners, tragic accidents or criminals you can find healing and recover.

However, let’s learn from Moses how to protect ourselves from the painful consequences of unwise choices at the crossroads of life. When he faced his biggest decision in life to live as an Egyptian or to identify with God’s people–he looked beyond the benefits of the moments and chose the long-term reward of identifying with the faith of his parents.

Here are some guidelines to help you avoid tempting options offered to you by the enemy at the crossroads of your life:

1. Put your decision in a reasonable time frame. Don ‘t rush major decisions. You may need 3 to 6 months to sort out your options. Discuss the decision with a trusted friend and/or spouse, etc. Sometimes we miss God’s will for our lives because we make major decisions too impulsively.

2. Be sure your decision is consistent with Scripture. Some choices, such as whether a believer should many an unbeliever, are clearly inconsistent with Scripture. You don’s even need to prey about it.

3. Develop a “spiritual neutrality” toward your options. Put your life in God’s hands and be willing to do whatever He wants you to do.

A Pray and think your way into me future of each option. Pray and think through, one-by-one, where each option would put you several years from now.

S. Ask God for a divine attraction for the option mat represents His will and an urge to pursue it.

 

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, VOL. III, NO. 30. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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