The Impact of Our Choices

by Dennis Stackhouse

Just prior to his physical death, Joshua tried to encourage the people of Israel with these familiar words: "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Strong words from one of Israel's strongest leaders. And in reality, choosing to serve God is the most important choice any human being can ever make because that decision will have an impact not only in this physical life, it will also carry over into eternity. Let's consider for a just a few moments the choice that must be made by all of us.

One point to quickly understand is that our choices are rather limited: God or the devil. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said this: "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters." Many people fail to realize that if they have not made a choice to follow and serve Christ, they are serving the devil. To not make the choice to follow Christ is in reality making the choice to follow the devil. In fact, such people are doing damage to God's kingdom. Notice our Lord said that the one who does not follow Him "scatters." From this we must also understand that there is no third choice. There are those who would like to "ride the fence" and walk in some kind of imaginary middle ground. Unfortunately, there is no middle ground; we are following Christ or we are following Satan.

We should also realize that our choice to follow Christ is one that must be actively pursued. Jesus Himself asked a haunting question in Luke 6:46: "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" The obvious course of action for someone who has confessed Jesus as their Lord is to obey and follow and serve Him through the remainder of their life. However, if one confesses Christ as his or her Lord and then fails to obey Him, they are simply wasting their breath. This is reinforced in the words of Luke 9:62, where Jesus said: "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." The Christian life is one that requires a constant, unwavering dedication to God and Christ. The apostle Paul put it this way: "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

The impact of his choice to become a Christian caused Paul to press toward the goal of heaven, something that every child of God should be doing. The grand words of I Corinthians 15:58 need to be words the Christian lives out: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." God will not forget the work that is done in His service (Hebrews 6:10). In the same way, we must never forget the impact our choices have on the kind of life we live. As Christians, we must be steadfast.