Healthy ChoicesChoose you this day… but choose carefully.
For as long as I can remember, my dear mother has signed every card sent my way, long past or recent, with the same time-tested notation, “I love you, Mom … Proverbs 3:5-6.” My first recollection of this footnote was in the summer of 1979 on my 17th birthday. I noticed it written in the front cover leaf of a Bible sent to me at Camp Paradise Valley in Kentucky. You see, Mom was ahead of the parental wisdom curve and confident in offering sage advice. She knew that as young men, my twin brother and I would be tempted to stray from the preferred path. She simply said to us, “You have a choice,” and indeed we did. While I haven’t always chosen properly over the years, Mom’s guiding principle has carried through the long day, and I thank her for her devoted wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
It was bound to happen—the failure of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Free will, necessary as it is, has a way of tripping us up. Humankind, even in the perfected infancy of creation, somehow managed to make the wrong decision. Though they dwelt in paradise, lacking nothing, it only took a casual bit of savvy persuasion to entice our first parents to stretch the wings of their libertarian desires. Make no mistake, the Creator was clear in His instruction: “But the Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).
And so it was. The seemingly unquenchable, individual passion to live uncontrolled in the exercise of self-sovereignty, led to the downfall of humanity. Now, let’s not fool ourselves. In the post-garden era, in the peerless hindsight afforded us by way of scripture, we are harsh in our assessment of Adam and Eve. The fact is, if we stood in their place, the outcome would have been no less catastrophic. I’m afraid that in the battle of wills, the naked truth reveals that evil is all too often victorious.
Do not be discouraged. Evil has its day and triumphs in the moment, but the final outcome for the devoted child of God is determined. Evil does not prevail; ultimately, our human desire to rebel will give way to complete freedom in Christ, that is, for the pilgrim who seeks such holy completion. Until then, we have choices to make.
Of all the gifts to humanity granted from the benevolent hand of God, free will is perhaps the most highly esteemed. Without this profound degree of autonomy, mankind is doomed to live a futile existence, fated to walk a determined path by the decree of a soulless inventor who simply has no interest in fellowship with his creation. Without free will, we simply move and have our being for the amusement of our designer, devoid of true purpose, incapable of sincere love or meaningful relationship. Within this unhappy scenario, we become the exact opposite of the being in whose image we claim to be created.
Does God need us? No. Does He want us? Yes, thus the purpose of our creation in the first place. He finds great pleasure in the mutual affection that can only be derived from a true, freedom-based relationship. The logic model for freedom of choice, therefore, is concrete, at least in the eyes of this believer. Cognitively limited as I am, I am full of faith.
Over the next few months, we will attempt to explore our options of choice. The words “healthy habits” imply a focus on good decisions, but open the door to the juxtaposition between good and bad scenarios. Therefore, we should not shy away from the implications of both outcomes. Often, we learn our best lessons by making unwise decisions, thus the value of occasional missteps cannot be overlooked. Of course, our foundational premise will be guided in large measure by our belief that God desires to inhabit the totality of our being with the grace of holiness. In holiness, God’s restored image of you and me, we expand the reach of our influence in a world gripped by the consequences of selfish, godless decisions. We hope to understand through our exploration the truest ramifications of choice as observed through personal, social, spiritual, psychological and intellectual impact. In other words, how will this particular healthy decision affect our greater presence?
What do we say then? Are we the constantly developing product of our decisions? I believe we are, and if so, it only follows that our outcomes, positive or negative, will fall in line with the quality of our choice. Of course, we will not discount the random occurrences of the world over which we have no choice—those things we can only describe as acts of God. Sometimes, there simply is no explanation. Most of the time, however, as we look at our own individual brief histories, we can point to correlations between decision and outcome. What’s more, often those outcomes not only affect us personally, but also communally. You see, when it comes to choices, no individual is an island unto self.
A few questions come to mind as we close out this first segment of the topic. When making conscious decisions—decisions of relevance—we should ask ourselves:
- Is this decision in keeping with the character of God to whom I claim devotion?
- What are the potential positive/negative implications of this choice?
- What are the moral, social, spiritual and physical inferences of this choice?
- Does this choice develop my nature in a positive, godly way?
We could go on and on. The questions are endless, as are the potentialities of our choices. So, go ahead. Exercise your freedom. Choose you this day… but choose carefully.
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